Fiber sculpture is defined as the creation of three-dimensional form using flexible linear and planar materials and includes processes such as knitting, crocheting, embroidery, felt making, netting, and basket making. Historically, these techniques have been utilized to build functional objects and structures from vessels to architecture, but in the last forty years these techniques have been commandeered by artists interested in alternative methods of construction. Perceived as a masculine arena, traditional sculpture was dominated by the use of chisels, hammers, torches, and power tools. In contrast, fiber sculpture asserts its strength through connectivity and flexibility, often engaging in repetitive practices. These strategies invite critical reflection on themes such as domesticity and labor in both individual and collective histories, and contemporary artists in many disciplines are employing these familiar materials and methods to reinvent their practices in the twenty-first century.
This course is a test kitchen for the material exploration of skin-like surfaces. Building on the definition of membrane-the thin, pliable layer of surface tissue that separates or connects regions, structures, or organs-students will investigate skin-like forms in relation to the concepts of protection, glamour, identity, function, and form. Using physical surfaces of plant, animal, and synthetic material in conjunction with a variety of hand- and machine-based technologies such as sewing, applique, heat press, paper, lashing, and interlacing, students will invent surface, intervene with drawn and painted gestures, and fabricate structures.