In hands-on, topic-driven courses, learn how to engage with the histories and practices surrounding textile thinking as it relates to issues in contemporary art practice, activism, and design thinking.
Explore the interdisciplinary potential of textiles and material thinking
One of the oldest aesthetic traditions in the world, textiles and the artwork produced from textiles are currently on the cutting edge of contemporary art practice and critical inquiry. Textiles is an interdisciplinary fine arts program that introduces students to a vast range of textile construction methods, such as weaving, printing, dyeing, and hand-work, through conceptual and experimentally driven frameworks.
Textile thinking—the way we radically discuss and examine the implications of structure, ornamentation, pattern, color, material, and process—is always changing and expanding. Our broad curriculum prepares students to make a positive impact in fields including but not limited to studio-based practice, activism, design, theory, and environmental sustainability.
Join an internationally recognized program
Our internationally recognized Textiles program teaches you to think beyond the crafted object. Compared to other programs in the United States, our courses are topic-driven, developed to promote critical thinking, research, and problem-solving alongside skill building and technique through assignments and critique. Students are encouraged to investigate related issues such as the implications of pattern and repetition, explore technology’s relationship to industrialization and mass production, and interrogate systemic forms of oppression. Contemporary critical race theory, gender theory, queer theory, and slow methodologies aid in our inquiry to understand the shape of an innovative and relevant textile practice today.
Unlike traditional textile surface and textile design programs, ours is rooted in a fine arts practice with a strong relationship to painting and sculpture. Students have the freedom to pursue formal abstraction, personal narrative, public art, and countless other capacities for textile thinking and creation.
Equal parts analog and digital, our state-of-the-art studios are designed to foster a range of applications: experimental, functional, and industrial. Planar and linear forms of textile construction and surface manipulation, including but not limited to weaving, screenprinting, dyeing, stitching, felt-making, knitting, crocheting, surface embellishment, basketry, and soft sculpture techniques provide the backbone of our curriculum. As you develop and refine your conceptual and foundational skills, you’ll gain the confidence to experiment with sustainable materials and try your hand at cutting-edge digital processes.
Weaving through the hand and the digital
With floor looms and computer-operated dobby looms, our Weaving Studio supports our commitment to an ever-expanding rhetoric around craft, as well as contemporary interdisciplinary strategies. In this regard, our looms function as tools to negotiate conversations around cloth, pattern, structure, technology, and the body. The BFA in Textiles is also one of the few programs in the United States that teaches digital weaving on hand-powered Jacquard looms for both art-based and commercial applications. Students meet alumni who use the Jacquard loom as their primary tool through the Lia Cook Jacquard Weaving Residency, learning from their experimental work during studio visits, critiques, and public lectures and demonstrations.
Exploring diverse cultural traditions
Each year, the Textiles program hosts a range of events and lectures, including our Textile Futures series, which introduces you to textile practitioners from around the world. This series helps us explore how artists—from Tibetan rug weavers to Haitian Vodou flag makers and priests—work to preserve culturally significant practices within the landscape of modern textile manufacturing.
Encouraging open dialogue and critique
As a way to nourish critical conversations around textile history, theory, and practice, the Textiles seminar room functions as the hive of our community. Lively lectures, discussions, and critiques within the classroom provide the intellectual backbone to our making-intensive curriculum. The seminar space is also used as a homeroom for our fiber sculpture classes, where students are encouraged to explore such courses as Skin and Bones, Darn It, and Hand Technology. These courses harness the potential to discuss culturally relevant issues through traditional forms of handwork and embellishment.
Integrating slow-textiles techniques
The program’s Dye Garden, an important part of our Soil to Studio course, is the site of many community gatherings, including a campus-wide indigo-dyeing event. We use the garden to cultivate and harvest plants for fabrics and dyes and enrich our conversations around responsible modes of production and sustainability.
Studios outfitted with a range of equipment
- Two computerized TC-2 Jacquard looms
- AVL 24-harness computer-controlled dobby loom
- Multi-shaft floor looms
- Spinning wheels
- Print Studio with a 33-foot print table for large-scale projects
- Industrial dye studio
- Large-format exposure unit for screenprinting
- Industrial serger
- Vacuum-forming machine
- Industrial and home-sewing machines
- Light tables
Additional shops, labs, and studios
Our internationally renowned faculty have diverse studio practices. As visual artists, designers, and historians, our instructors guide students through contemporary discourse and help them develop thoughtful, nuanced creative practices.
Chair Deborah Valoma’s hybrid practice integrates making, research, and writing to investigate textiles as signifiers of identity and agents of cultural continuity. She’s developed a series of courses that interrogate textile culture through theoretical lenses, including colonization, cultural appropriation, and gender- and race-based hierarchies of value. Valoma has written articles and catalogue essays, curated exhibitions, and published the book Scrape the Willow Until It Sings, which traces the Indigenous thinking and making of Julia Parker, the premier Native American basket weaver in California.
Valoma is currently working on a multi-year interdisciplinary project that began when she inventoried a collection of textiles inherited from her grandmother—most made by her foremothers in Ottoman Turkey villages and in the Armenian diaspora. A combination of research, archiving, and responsive making, The Armenian Postmemory Project addresses the role textiles play in cultural survival.
Create truly meaningful work
Textiles at CCA is one of the preeminent textiles programs in the U.S. Courses develop a strong historical and theoretical knowledge of the field; explore sustainable design, slow-textiles practices, craft-based principles, and fine arts materiality and process; integrate disparate environmental, cultural, and conceptual issues; and weave together traditional skills such as spinning and knitting with contemporary interdisciplinary strategies and digital technology. View sample courses
Investigate ideas through every dimension
Before diving into their chosen major, every undergraduate participates in the First Year Experience. Students explore a wide range of materials and tools over the course of two semesters. Faculty from different disciplines guide studio projects, group critiques, and theoretical discussions, setting students up for success throughout their major coursework.
After graduation, our students are ready to pursue careers as interdisciplinary artists, designers, activists and community organizers, writers, and entrepreneurs. They have the skills to work within the industry and push beyond it, successfully expanding narratives about materiality and craft. Some students become designers in textile production, but many more pursue careers as fine artists and achieve international gallery representation.
Potential career paths
- Independent artist
- Independent designer
- Surface designer for industry
- Woven/knit designer for industry
- Textile producer
- Textile historian/cultural anthropologist
- Political activist
- Designer focused on permaculture, slow fashion, and sustainability
Textile students are artists who want the freedom to chart their own conceptual paths. Whether you’re interested in activist-inspired work, fiber arts, or experimental modes of design thinking, you’ll find the raw materials, inspiring theoretical discussions, and supportive community to achieve your goals. Our program’s correlation to painting, printmaking, and sculpture presents you with many opportunities to investigate and expand the capacities of cloth as a tool in a range of fine arts practices.