Fiber Arts and Weaving at JMU

Textile and fiber art practices are currently on the cutting edge of contemporary art and critical inquiry, and represent one of the world’s longest and most accessible aesthetic traditions. The fiber arts program at SADAH emphasizes exploration of materials within a contemporary context that considers emergent and related issues of multiculturalism, technological advancement, gender, sexuality and more.

Students will examine the relationships among material, process and the maker, as well as the critical role that cloth and fiber processes have played in global economic marketplaces historically.

The fiber arts program emphasizes student engagement in both in studio practice and critical research. Students will learn to weave on-loom while also being introduced to many off-loom processes like wet felting, spinning, knitting, crochet, surface design, stitch and screen-printing.

Studio sessions are supplemented with readings and discussion that explore social and cultural concerns related to the techniques learned. Relevant issues include functionality, identity, consumerism, community, repetition, pattern and decoration.

Fiber Arts and Weaving

Students use state-of-the-art equipment used by professionals for fiber production, including multi-harness handlooms and electronic jacquard looms. Both hand-operated and electronic knitting machines allow for further exploration of knitted fabrics. The department also offers a digital textile printer, a fully equipped dye kitchen and silkscreen lab.

As practicing professionals themselves, professors support the development of students as artists and/or designers regardless of whether students produce work for commercial trade or fine art exhibitions. Additionally, many students choose to work on the boundaries of the medium by exploring fashion, sculpture, video, ceramics, painting, metal arts, performance and installation as part of their practice. Experimenting with materials and methods is encouraged as students develop individual creative practices. Interdisciplinary strategies of making are valued.

The fibers area regularly brings contemporary artists and curators to speak on campus and conduct studio visits with students. Recent guest lecturers include Jen Bervin, Geraldine Craig, Surabhi Ghosh, Allyson Mitchell, Danny Orendorff, Rowland Ricketts, III and Shannon Stratton.

Graduate Program in Fibers

The MFA program in fibers is a three-year period of rigorous studio investigation, critical discourse, and conceptual development. Graduates work closely with faculty throughout SADAH as well as within the Fibers area. The program promotes an interdisciplinary approach to studio production.

Fibers Faculty

R. Mertens

Fibers Head, Associate Professor

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