Fibers & Material Studies practices are on the cutting edge of contemporary art and critical inquiry, while also representing one of the world’s longest and most accessible aesthetic traditions. Fibers & Material Studies at the Tyler School of Art emphasizes the exploration of materials in both their traditional and contemporary contexts, and in relation to wide-ranging issues of technological development, the transnational circulation of culture, race and multiculturalism, gender, sexuality, and class, among others. Students examine the relationships between materials, processes, and conceptual exploration, as well as the critical role that cloth and fiber play in the global economic marketplace.
Undergraduate students are introduced to state of the art equipment, including a Jacquard Loom, multi-harness floor looms and electronic looms, knitting machines, and embroidery machines. The department also offers digital printing, a fully equipped dye kitchen, and screen-printing lab. Many Tyler students choose to work at the edges of the medium by exploring sculpture, video, performance, and installation as part of their practice. Experimenting with materials and methods is encouraged as students develop individual creative practices.
The Graduate program in Fibers & Material Studies allows for time and space to develop a rigorous studio practice. With guidance from our diverse faculty, students work independently to develop a practice grounded in a conceptual awareness of key discourses within the critical study of fibers and materials, such as labor, economy, globalization, cultural appropriation, Do-it-Yourself and sustainability, gender and feminism, and women’s global and historical role in textile production. In conjunction with a committee of advisers that students select from across the university, students meet one on one to develop their work and receive critical feedback. Students are also expected to take Art History classes and seminars that engage emerging topics in the field, the broader art world, and social and political inquiry. Students have opportunities for teaching assistantships, hosting visiting artists, and participation in our Jacquard Artist-in-Residence Program. Our program embraces a broad definition of material exploration, from more traditional ways of making, to community-based projects, to experimental performance, sound, and video work.