Graduate Studies in Fibers

Christine LoFaso, M.F.A., School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Description of Program:
Fiber encompasses a broad range of materials and techniques and uniquely embraces discourses in contemporary art and design. The fibers area of study offers instruction in papermaking and book arts, fabric painting, printing, and dyeing, textile construction, and mixed media techniques. Emphasis is placed on the integration of textile traditions with concerns of photography, sculpture, printmaking, painting, fashion and installation. Following basic course work, students focus on a personal direction and are guided in their development through readings, discussion, exposure to contemporary theory, and class critiques.

Assistantships and Tuition Waivers: The NIU School of Art and Design offers opportunities for graduate student assistantships and graduate teaching assistantships assigned on a competitive basis, which include full tuition and a monthly stipend. Tuition waivers are also available.

Facilities: The fibers studio is housed in the visual arts building and comprises several multi-harness floor looms, textile printing tables, a papermaking facility, and other equipment for developing textile work.

Individual studio spaces are provided for each student in the M.F.A. program, In addition to classroom spaces, the main art building houses a full woodworking studio and computer labs that are accessible to students.

Student Careers and Accomplishments: MFA alumni in Fibers hold positions at Concordia University in Chicago, Harper College and Rock Valley College in Illinois, Appalachian Center for Crafts in Tennessee, Yale University Art Library, Contemporary Art Center of Virginia, and other cultural institutions; they work in various capacities including: college art professor, curatorial assistant, studio art technician, and theater costume designer.

FiberARTS Magazine has an annual call for entries for a special topics article, “Artists to Watch: Top Student Work.” Entries are selected from an international pool of candidates and are intended to represent the most important student work being made in the field of fibers. Two students from the NIU Fiber Program were recently selected in two consecutive years to be included in this competitive annual magazine article.

Additional Resources: Students majoring in fibers have received funding for professional presentations of their graduate research at various conferences and symposia. Additionally, beginning in the second year of study, students are eligible to apply for a highly competitive University Fellowship, which is awarded to a select group of exceptional graduate students. This award includes a full tuition waiver and a substantial stipend and allows students to fully concentrate on their studies. A recent graduate student in fibers was awarded a University Fellowship, which is the second time a graduate student in fibers has received this competitive award.

The Fibers Area regularly sponsors visiting artists who address contemporary issues in the discourse and also critique student work. Recent visiting artists include:

Frau Fiber (Chicago artist working in installation and performance)
Karen Hanmer (Chicago artist working in book arts and print media)
Jesus Macarena-Avilla (Chicago-based artist and co-founder of Polvo Art Studio, Chicago alternative space for contemporary art)
Mark Newport (Head of Fiber Program, Cranbrook Academy)
Karen Reimer (Renaissance Society at University of Chicago)
Tass Mavrogordato (British Crafts Council; former Head of Undergraduate Program in Textiles, Goldsmiths College, UK)
Laura Strand (Head of Fiber Program, Southern Illinois University/Edwardsville)
Darrel Morris (Faculty, Fiber and Material Studies/School of the Art Institute of Chicago)
Jerry Bleem (Faculty, Fiber and Material Studies/School of the Art Institute of Chicago)
Tetsuo Fujimoto (Professor/Seian College, Kyoto, JAPAN)
Christine Tarkowski (Faculty, Fiber and Material Studies/School of the Art Institute)
Jennifer Angus (Faculty, University of Wisconsin/Madison)
Lou Cabeen (Faculty, University of Washington/Seattle)
Nick Cave (Installation and Performance artist)
Valerie Constantino (New York-based artist working installation and performance)
Anna-Maija Arras and Gun Holstrom (artists working in sculpture, installation, and video; Helsinki, FINLAND)
Leah Oates (New York-based artist working in book arts and print media)
Lindsay Obermeyer (Chicago artist working in installation and performance)

The School of Art and Design as a whole, hosts an impressive Visiting Artist and Scholars program. The School contains a large gallery space where professional artists and various student exhibitions are held. A medium size gallery space is designated for graduate student exhibitions. The NIU Art Museum is also present on campus and schedules an ongoing rotation of professional exhibitions and visiting artist events, often in conjunction with the School of Art and Design.

Admissions: The deadline for application to the NIU Graduate School for the School of Art and Design graduate program in studio arts is: February 1.

Application materials and additional information may be obtained from:

School of Art and Design Graduate Programs
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, Illinois 60115

How to Apply

Telephone: (815) 753‐0292
Fax: (815) 753‐7701


niu | school of art and design
jack arends building
dekalb, il 60115-2883