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. Students are encouraged to investigate 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.
We’re one of the few programs in the United States that teaches digital weaving on Jacquard looms for both art-based and commercial applications. You’ll meet alumni who use the Jacquard loom as their primary tool through the Lia Cook Jacquard Weaving Residency. Students learn 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.
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 Josh Faught combines textiles and fiber with found cultural objects to create highly ornamental works that weave together personal and social narratives exploring the history of the queer body. He's exhibited in numerous venues internationally and was recently recognized as a finalist for the 2018 Burke Prize. His work has been reviewed by numerous publications, including Artforum, The New York Times, and the New Yorker.
Create truly meaningful work
Textiles studio courses encourage students to explore sustainable design, slow-textiles practices, craft-based principles, and fine arts materiality and process. Unique history and theory courses, which rotate by semester and year, help students think outside of the box and follow their own creative inquiries. View descriptions of current courses here
Investigate ideas through every dimension
Before diving into their chosen major, every undergraduate participates in the First Year Core program. 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.