Installation of multi prints in pink, black, and metallics.

© 2017 School of the Art Institute of Chicago; All Rights Reserved Artwork: Maria Burundarena

Undergraduate Overview

Fiber & Material Studies Undergraduate Overview

The undergraduate Fiber and Material Studies program is the largest in the world and offers a progressive curriculum taught by distinguished and innovative faculty who are leading working artists and scholars in the field. At the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, we teach Fiber and Material Studies in a contemporary fine arts context, emphasizing materiality, experimentation and innovation.

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) students considering a concentration in Fiber and Material Studies, we encourage can enroll in beginning-level classes such as Introduction to Fiber and Material Studies, Drawn to Print, Woven Structure Basics, Papermaking I, To Dye For, and Stitch I. From there, Fiber and Material Studies faculty will help you determine the sequence and selection of upper-level courses best suited to your practice and interests. Those classes include Os + 1s Jacquard Weaving, Print Into Sculpture: 3D Screens, The Unpainted Picture, Time, Material, and the Everyday, Micro/Macro: Artist Research, and advanced weaving, print, dye, and papermaking classes. 

We encourage you to seek connections and crossovers between Fiber and Material Studies and other studio and design areas at the school. Our curriculum practices a broad range of concerns incorporating and informed by several key areas:

  • Weaving
  • Printing and Dyeing
  • Construction techniques
  • Papermaking
  • Sculpture/Soft Sculpture, dimensional forms and Installation
  • Stitch
  • Painting and collage
  • Performance
  • Digital technologies

You and your peers will develop a wide range of 2D and 3D work through concerns of hands-on making, concept and content articulated on the surface, in the structure, and through mixed media (crossover disciplines).

BFA in Studio with Thesis Option (Liberal Arts or Visual Critical Studies)

BFA students may complete a nine-credit, research-based academic thesis as part of their studies within the 126 credits for the BFA in Studio degree. BFA with Thesis course sequences are offered over 3 semesters through the departments of Liberal Arts or Visual and Critical Studies (VCS). Students who are interested in one of the thesis options should follow the steps outlined below in the beginning of the junior year.

Requirements for the BFA: Studio Art with Liberal Arts Thesis

Step One: Students are required to meet with the chair of the Liberal Arts department in the beginning of their junior year. 

Step Two: With the department chair's approval, the student enrolls in the following courses beginning in the spring term of their junior year:

  • SOCSCI or HUMANITY 3900 Academic Research and Writing (3 credits)
  • LIBARTS 4800 Undergraduate Thesis: Research/Writing I (3 credits)
  • CAPSTONE 4900 Liberal Arts Undergraduate Thesis: Research/Writing II (3 credits)

Step Three: The completed thesis must be approved by both the Thesis II instructor and the Chair of Liberal Arts. Students must make a formal presentation and participate in the Undergraduate Thesis Symposium in their senior year. 

Requirements for the BFA: Studio Art with Visual and Critical Studies (VCS) Thesis

Step One: Students are required to meet with the Visual and Critical Studies Undergraduate Coordinator in or by the beginning of their junior year.

Step Two: With the VCS Coordinator's approval, the student enrolls in the first of the three-course sequence beginning in the spring term of their junior year:

  • VCS 3010 Tutorial in Visual & Critical Studies (3 credits)
  • VCS 4800 Undergraduate Thesis Seminar: Research & Writing I (3 credits)
  • CAPSTONE 4900 VCS Undergraduate Thesis Seminar: Research & Writing II (3 credits)

Step Three: Completion of thesis must be approved by both the Thesis II instructor and the VCS Undergraduate Coordinator. Students must make a formal presentation and participate in the Undergraduate VCS Thesis Symposium in the senior year.

Total credits required for minimum residency

60

Minimum Studio credit

42

Admissions Requirements & Curriculum Overview

  • To apply to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), you will need to fill out an application and submit your transcripts, artist's statement, and letters of recommendation. And most importantly, we require a portfolio of your best and most recent work—work that will give us a sense of you, your interests, and your willingness to explore, experiment, and think beyond technical art, design, and writing skills.

    In order to apply, please submit the following items:  

    • Online application
    • Artist’s Statement
    • Transcripts
    • Letter of Recommendation
    • Test Scores 
    • Portfolio

    Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Portfolio:

    Submit 10–15 pieces of your best and most recent work. We will review your portfolio and application materials for merit scholarship once you have been admitted to SAIC.

    When compiling a portfolio, you may concentrate your work in a single discipline or show work in a breadth of media. The portfolio may include drawings, prints, photographs, paintings, film, video, audio recordings, sculpture, ceramics, fashion designs, graphic design, furniture, objects, architectural designs, websites, video games, sketchbooks, scripts, storyboards, screenplays, zines, or any combination of the above.

    Learn more about applying to SAIC's Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio, or view our portfolio preparation guide for more information.

  • Studio

    69

    • CP 1010 Core Studio Practice I (3)
    • CP 1011 Core Studio Practice II (3)
    • CP 1020 Research Studio I (3)
    • CP 1022 Research Studio II (3)
    • SOPHSEM 2900 (3)
    • PROFPRAC 3900 (3)
    • CAPSTONE 4900 (3)
    • Studio Electives (48)

         PROFPRAC and CAPSTONE are now required for new incoming students beginning in the 2015-16 academic year.

     

    Art History

    15

    • ARTHI 1001 World Cultures/Civilizations: Pre-History—19th Century Art and Architecture (3)
    • Art History Elective at 1000 level (3)
    • Art History Electives (9)

     

    Liberal Arts

    30

    • ENGLISH 1001 First Year Seminar I (3)
    • ENGLISH 1005 First Year Seminar II (3)
    • Natural Science (6)
    • Social Science (6)
    • Humanities (6)
    • Liberal Arts Electives (6)

     

    General Electives

    6

    • Studio, Art History, Liberal Arts, AAP, or EIS

     

    Total Credit Hours

    120

     

    BFA students must complete at least 6 credit hours in a class designated as "off campus study." These credits can also fulfill any of the requirements listed above and be from any of the divisions (Art History, Studio, Liberal Arts, or General Electives).

    BFA With Distinction—SAIC Scholars Program: The SAIC Scholars program is a learning community of BFA students pursuing rigorous study in both their academic coursework and their studio pathways. There are two opportunities for interested students to apply to the SAIC Scholars Program: at the time of admission to the school, and after they have completed 30 credits of study at SAIC. Students pursuing the latter option are required to formally submit an application to the Undergraduate Division. Once admitted to the SAIC Scholars Program, students are required to successfully complete a minimum of six designated scholars courses. Students who complete the program will graduate with distinction.

Course Listing

Title Catalog Instructor Schedule

Description

This course introduces students to a diverse range of textile materials, processes, histories, politics, traditions, and cultures of fiber and their relationships to contemporary art practice. Historical and contemporary approaches to process and materials are explored as students are introduced to a variety of fiber techniques in construction and surface application. Taught technique can include printing, tapestry weaving, immersion and resist dyeing, knitting, crochet, felting, coiling, hand embroidery, machine sewing, piecework, and embellishment. Textiles have rich and complex histories in all cultures. Examples from across time and place will be explored and discussed through visual presentations, assigned readings, in-class discussions, visiting artist lectures, and field trips. By the end of this course, students will become familiar with the formal, conceptual, expressive, and political potential of fiber as an expressive medium with limitless possibilities. Course work will vary but typically includes the creation of technical samples, critique projects, and reading responses.

Class Number

1189

Credits

3

Department

Fiber and Material Studies

Location

Sharp 902

Description

This course introduces students to a diverse range of textile materials, processes, histories, politics, traditions, and cultures of fiber and their relationships to contemporary art practice. Historical and contemporary approaches to process and materials are explored as students are introduced to a variety of fiber techniques in construction and surface application. Taught technique can include printing, tapestry weaving, immersion and resist dyeing, knitting, crochet, felting, coiling, hand embroidery, machine sewing, piecework, and embellishment. Textiles have rich and complex histories in all cultures. Examples from across time and place will be explored and discussed through visual presentations, assigned readings, in-class discussions, visiting artist lectures, and field trips. By the end of this course, students will become familiar with the formal, conceptual, expressive, and political potential of fiber as an expressive medium with limitless possibilities. Course work will vary but typically includes the creation of technical samples, critique projects, and reading responses.

Class Number

1190

Credits

3

Department

Fiber and Material Studies

Location

Sharp 902

Description

This course introduces students to a diverse range of textile materials, processes, histories, politics, traditions, and cultures of fiber and their relationships to contemporary art practice. Historical and contemporary approaches to process and materials are explored as students are introduced to a variety of fiber techniques in construction and surface application. Taught technique can include printing, tapestry weaving, immersion and resist dyeing, knitting, crochet, felting, coiling, hand embroidery, machine sewing, piecework, and embellishment. Textiles have rich and complex histories in all cultures. Examples from across time and place will be explored and discussed through visual presentations, assigned readings, in-class discussions, visiting artist lectures, and field trips. By the end of this course, students will become familiar with the formal, conceptual, expressive, and political potential of fiber as an expressive medium with limitless possibilities. Course work will vary but typically includes the creation of technical samples, critique projects, and reading responses.

Class Number

1204

Credits

3

Department

Fiber and Material Studies

Location

Sharp 1014

Description

This course introduces students to a diverse range of textile materials, processes, histories, politics, traditions, and cultures of fiber and their relationships to contemporary art practice. Historical and contemporary approaches to process and materials are explored as students are introduced to a variety of fiber techniques in construction and surface application. Taught technique can include printing, tapestry weaving, immersion and resist dyeing, knitting, crochet, felting, coiling, hand embroidery, machine sewing, piecework, and embellishment. Textiles have rich and complex histories in all cultures. Examples from across time and place will be explored and discussed through visual presentations, assigned readings, in-class discussions, visiting artist lectures, and field trips. By the end of this course, students will become familiar with the formal, conceptual, expressive, and political potential of fiber as an expressive medium with limitless possibilities. Course work will vary but typically includes the creation of technical samples, critique projects, and reading responses.

Class Number

1191

Credits

3

Department

Fiber and Material Studies

Location

Sharp 902

Description

This course introduces students to a diverse range of textile materials, processes, histories, politics, traditions, and cultures of fiber and their relationships to contemporary art practice. Historical and contemporary approaches to process and materials are explored as students are introduced to a variety of fiber techniques in construction and surface application. Taught technique can include printing, tapestry weaving, immersion and resist dyeing, knitting, crochet, felting, coiling, hand embroidery, machine sewing, piecework, and embellishment. Textiles have rich and complex histories in all cultures. Examples from across time and place will be explored and discussed through visual presentations, assigned readings, in-class discussions, visiting artist lectures, and field trips. By the end of this course, students will become familiar with the formal, conceptual, expressive, and political potential of fiber as an expressive medium with limitless possibilities. Course work will vary but typically includes the creation of technical samples, critique projects, and reading responses.

Class Number

1207

Credits

3

Department

Fiber and Material Studies

Location

Sharp 902

Description

This course introduces students to a diverse range of textile materials, processes, histories, politics, traditions, and cultures of fiber and their relationships to contemporary art practice. Historical and contemporary approaches to process and materials are explored as students are introduced to a variety of fiber techniques in construction and surface application. Taught technique can include printing, tapestry weaving, immersion and resist dyeing, knitting, crochet, felting, coiling, hand embroidery, machine sewing, piecework, and embellishment. Textiles have rich and complex histories in all cultures. Examples from across time and place will be explored and discussed through visual presentations, assigned readings, in-class discussions, visiting artist lectures, and field trips. By the end of this course, students will become familiar with the formal, conceptual, expressive, and political potential of fiber as an expressive medium with limitless possibilities. Course work will vary but typically includes the creation of technical samples, critique projects, and reading responses.

Class Number

1821

Credits

3

Department

Fiber and Material Studies

Location

Sharp 902

Description

This course is an introduction to floor loom hand weaving through the study of basic weave structures, woven image techniques and fiber types. Traditional and experimental use of material and technique will be used to explore double weaves, painted warps and a variety of hand-manipulated techniques including tapestry, brocade and inlay. Students will study the global histories of woven cloth through a variety of readings, presentations, and class discussions. Works by artists such as Diedrick Brackens, Lenore Tawney, and Gunta Stolzl will be discussed as well as writings by thinkers such as Anni Albers, T'ai Smith, Dieter Hoffman-Axthelm as primary points of departure. Students will study basic weaving draft patterns and will complete independent research into artists and techniques of interest. The conceptual and material considerations of contemporary craft-based art will be a major component of this course. Students will produce 2-6 finished weavings over the course of the semester through their exploration and research of a variety of techniques on 4-harness floor looms.

Class Number

1192

Credits

3

Department

Fiber and Material Studies

Location

Sharp 1011

Description

In this course, a wide range of processes for screenprinting onto fabric and alternative substrates are demonstrated, including the use of textile inks, fiber reactive dyes, resist and discharge, and heat transfers of foils and disperse dyes. Students will use hand drawn, computer generated, and photographic images to explore foundational screen print techniques and concepts such as monoprinting, multiples, color relationships, composition, and basic repeat patterns. Interdisciplinary and experimental uses of the printed surface are encouraged throughout the development of personal research and practice. The class is augmented by relevant lectures, readings and visits to AIC, artist studios and galleries. Students present finished and in-process works at three critiques throughout the semester.

Class Number

1205

Credits

3

Department

Fiber and Material Studies

Location

Sharp 905

Description

This course explores various approaches to altering, enriching, and transforming the surface of pliable materials and forms. Emphasis is on the surface treatment and its relationship to structure while using conventional and non-conventional materials. Students work with a broad range of hand and machine stitching techniques that can include embroidery, embellishment, piecing, quilting, applique, and working with treatments like paints, dyes, adhesives, and collage. Special attention is paid to the histories of these techniques and how they are being utilized in contemporary art. Technical demonstrations, assigned readings, group discussions, lectures and field trips will augment student learning. The course is structured to support students in the development of their studio arts practice by equipping them with a variety of technical skills and encouraging them to pursue projects driven by their own formal, material, and conceptual concerns. Individual and group critiques are integral to the course. Course work will vary but typically includes the creation of samples, critique projects, and reading responses.

Class Number

1199

Credits

3

Department

Fiber and Material Studies

Area of Study

Costume Design

Location

Sharp 1014

Description

A drawing is made whenever an object in motion touches the surface of another and evidence of their meeting is left behind. Images will be generated by examining a range of traditional and contemporary drawing techniques with an emphasis on analog processes and material exploration. Whether one?s style is gestural and improvisational or systemic and detail-oriented, drawing will be used as a device to access ideas and expand conceptual vocabulary. Printmaking then becomes an extension of the drawing process, infusing a richness of surface, color, texture, and layering. Examining the physical relationship between drawing and printing is a priority, with a focus on direct printing techniques such as monoprinting and heat transfers alongside hand-painting and collage. A strong emphasis will be placed on developing a personal and innovative visual language, as well as challenging notions of scale, site and material. Readings, slide presentations and field trips will focus on course related topics. Students present finished and in-process works at three critiques throughout the semester.

Class Number

1200

Credits

3

Department

Fiber and Material Studies

Location

Sharp 905

Description

Throughout the course students will focus on the idea of softness and develop projects framed with readings on affect, intimacy, ?radical softness?, touch, and ?soft? identities so as to tease out ideas on what it means to be soft. Students will be introduced and encouraged to experiment from texture to form with hand manipulated and machine techniques like reverse needle felting, latch hooking, tucking, stabilizing, boning, armature building, fabric heat manipulating, natural dyeing, flocking, and fringe crocheting. Readings will include Sara Ahmed?s ?Happy Objects?, Alexander Thereoux?s ?Soft Balm, Soft Menace?, and Sianne Ngai?s ?The Cuteness of the Avant-Garde?. Two experimentation samples will be required in order to manifest these conceptual underpinnings through a variety of techniques. These samples act as playful guides that leads to two major projects with written statements. This course also require artist and reading presentations.

Class Number

1201

Credits

3

Department

Fiber and Material Studies

Area of Study

Costume Design

Location

Sharp 1014

Description

Students learn how to translate colors from the natural world into textiles, by using natural dyes foraged from plants, as well as dye concentrates and indigo, for immersion and direct dye applications. Complex surface design patterns are created through the Japanese resist process of shibori. Chemistry, color theory, material manipulations, and research provide a technical foundation for the creation of projects within the expanded field of textiles.

Class Number

2452

Credits

3

Department

Fiber and Material Studies

Location

Sharp 904

Description

The class will examine the many possibilities of creating woven forms using a tapestry loom (also called a frame loom). Students will begin by experimenting with the basic techniques of tapestry and plain weave as they explore ways of creating surface, image, texture and various color effects within a woven form. Students will then learn more complex tapestry weaving techniques. A variety of tapestry looms will be considered, including possibilities for constructing looms of varying dimensions and sizes. Contemporary weaving projects, along with historical references, will be presented through discussions, visual presentations, demonstrations, readings, and close-up examinations of woven textiles. This course is open to all levels. Tapestry works by contemporary artists such as Diedrick Brackens, kg, Erin M. Riley, Terri Friedman, Aiko Tezuka, Josh Faught, Julia Bland, Sarah Zapata, and Erasto ?Tito? Mendoza will be shown, together with seminal works by artists whose tapestry works spurred the emergence of the field of fiber in the 1950s through early 1970s: Trude Guermonprez, Anni Albers, Lenore Tawney, Olgs de Amaral, Tadeusz Beutlich, and Magdalena Abakanowicz. Contemporary frame loom weaving will be contextualized through visual presentations and readings exploring relevant histories of weaving across the Americas, Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, together with examples of present day weaving workshops and institutions like the Museo Textil de Oaxaca (Mexico), the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco (Peru),the Manufacture Nationale des Tapisseries Senegal (Senegal), and Sadu House (Kuwait). Course work will vary but typically includes the creation of woven samples, 3 or 4 finished works, reading responses, and short research assignments and/or presentations.

Class Number

2460

Credits

3

Department

Fiber and Material Studies

Area of Study

Gender and Sexuality, Community & Social Engagement, Digital Communication

Location

Sharp 1005

Description

The word 'craft' has been used both as a badge of honor and as a dismissive slur. This seminar will explore the stereotypes, the history and the changing status of craft in relation to contemporary art in America. We will read essays by craft theorists and makers including Marie Lo, M. Anna Fariello, Bruce Metcalf, L.J. Roberts and Namita Gupta Wiggers and watch the PBS Docuseries 'Craft in America' to help us triangulate an ever-shifting definition of craft. Students will bring previously-critiqued, in-process and revised work to 3 critiques, where an emphasis will be placed not just on WHAT objects mean but also HOW they mean. Course work includes weekly free-writing, reading discussions, and several assignments designed to help students articulate their artistic concerns and contextualize their work.

Prerequisites

Prerequisite: Must be a sophomore to enroll.

Class Number

2214

Credits

3

Department

Fiber and Material Studies

Location

Lakeview - 1427

Description

In Advanced Stitch- Students pursue a strong personal direction while continuing to develop a technical vocabulary and conceptual concerns. Moving across hand stitching and embroidery to using free motion sewing machines, the long arm quilting machines and digital embroidery machines, the class explores themes of gesture, line, speed, slowness, process, and materiality, with an emphasis on surface manipulation and scale. Group critiques encourage individual goals and develop an ongoing dialogue about contemporary issues. Field trips, group discussions, visual presentations, and readings will augment this studio-focused course. Course work will vary but typically includes critique projects, samples, and reading responses.

Prerequisites

FIBER 2005 or Sophomore Level

Class Number

1198

Credits

3

Department

Fiber and Material Studies

Location

Sharp 1014

Description

A membrane is a thin, typically planar structure or material that separates two environments, be those physical, molecular, or cultural. This class investigates this transitional space, and the potential for movement and transgression through it. Membrane structures are developed as surfaces, forms, and spatial relationships through techniques like chenille quilting, free motion sewing with a soluble membrane, nuno felting, papermaking in 2D and 3D, resist wax dyeing (batik), dip and wick dyeing, fabric burnout (devore) through silkscreening, protein/cellulose combination dyeing, and jacquard crocheting. Readings on conceptual permeability will include Jean Baudrillard?s ?Simulacra and Simulations?, Andrew Ballantyne?s ?Remaking the Self in Heterotopia?, Homi K. Bhabha?s ?On `hybridity? and `moving beyond??, and Roger Cardinal?s ?Secrecy?. Techniques will be divided into three major projects with written statements. This course also requires artist and reading presentations.

Class Number

1197

Credits

3

Department

Fiber and Material Studies

Location

Sharp 902

Description

The computer driven Jacquard goes beyond the limitations of a floor loom by interfacing with a computer to allow for direct control of individual threads. This course explores the historical and conceptual interstices of digital technology and hand weaving through the use of this loom Utilizing Photoshop and Jacquard weaving software, students will realize projects that begin with digital source material and result in hand woven constructions. The strongly debated connection between the Jacquard loom?s use of punched cards and the history of computers will be central to the course, as will the contemporary use of the loom as a new media tool. Studio work will blend work at the computer, weaving on the loom, reading, research and critical discussion.

Prerequisites

Prerequisite: Sophomore-level or above.

Class Number

2215

Credits

3

Department

Fiber and Material Studies

Area of Study

Digital Imaging

Location

Sharp 1005, Sharp 1011

Description

This studio course will consider how to compose a picture plane with a variety of materials including paper collage, fabric piecing, applique, heat press, direct dye application and other handwork, to create line and form. Students will make use of drawing and form invention methods including stitching and dying, in conjunction with, or in place of, painted surfaces. Projects and critiques will address the critical use of compositional elements and materials within the picture plane.

Class Number

1922

Credits

3

Department

Fiber and Material Studies

Location

Sharp 905

Description

In this studio course students will explore basket weaving techniques and their interconnectedness to the history and traditions of the craft. The class will utilize both traditional and non-traditional methods and materials to investigate new ways of creative expression while carrying the long, multi-cultural basket weaving tradition. Readings may include Revered Vessels: Custom and Innovation in Harari Basketry and Hybrid Basketry: Interweaving Digital Practice within Contemporary Craft. Students will be introduced to Native North American basket weaving and the ancient baskets of both Egypt and Israel to bring an understanding of the contemporary craft through its historical origins. Artists such as Hayakawa Shokosai, the Campana Brothers, and Ruth Asawa will be a point of reference for the class as a way to connect their own conceptual framework to this traditionally utilitarian craft. Students should expect to produce a variety of technique-based samples as well as a midterm and a final culminating project. This course requires an artist presentation and assigned readings. Students will reflect on the readings with written responses to connect contemporary works with historical craft.

Class Number

2388

Credits

3

Department

Fiber and Material Studies

Area of Study

Art/Design and Politics

Location

Sharp 1014

Description

This professional practice course that focuses on preparing for all things life after school. As scaffolding throughout the course we will explore the text, How to be an artist at night by Raqs media collective to explore a range of questions and themes in art practice at the intersection of contemporary life. What constitutes an education for the real world? How do we grow a community that supports and is in conversation with our work? What are the professional skills we need to sustain our practice outside the studio? How do we write about, talk about and present our work? What are the practices of self care we can cultivate to fuel our creativity? Other readings will include teaching to transgress- Bell Hooks, The Artist's Guide: How to make a living doing what you love- Jackie Battenfield, The Social Production of Art- Janet Wolff. We will also watch and respond to short films. Course work will vary but will typically include writing an artist statement, bio and exhibition proposal.

Prerequisites

Prerequisite: 2900 course

Class Number

1939

Credits

3

Department

Fiber and Material Studies

Area of Study

Exhibition and Curatorial Studies, Public Space, Site, Landscape, Social Media and the Web

Location

MacLean 818

Take the Next Step

Visit the undergraduate admissions website or contact the undergraduate admissions office at 800.232.7242 or ugadmiss@saic.edu.

Rachel Wallis, Unraveling Empire, 2017, Textiles

Final Undergraduate Application and Merit Deadline: April 15