Hey y’all, I’m Myranda! I am 22 years old and a senior in the Fibers program at the University of North Texas.
The Fibers program at UNT is one of the only programs of its kind in the area. Students have come from all over to attend and learn from our wonderful faculty and staff. For a time in the past we were sharing the fiber glory with Texas Woman’s University, but sadly their program is no longer here.
Our program focuses on mastery of techniques and the development of craftmanship. There are so many different techniques to explore and our program enables us to learn every single one of them. The program is currently run by tenure Professor Amie Adelman and visiting Assistant Professor Gabrielle Duggan. It is divided into two main focuses; weaving, which focuses on using looms and the production and design of cloth from start to finish; and surface design, which encompasses techniques that alter the surface of the cloth. Surface design includes dyeing, screen printing, quilting, digital printing, cyanotype and much more. The program also offers a course for other alternative processes, including crochet, knitting, felting, netting, spinning and other yarn processes.
The Fibers program empowers its students to think about their work critically and conceptually, as well as formally. It teaches us to make whatever we need for our body of work and for ourselves. This is accomplished by giving us the tools and knowledge to go out on our own as well as providing a multitude of resources. There are no strict rules with material either; many of the skills we have learned can be applied to a wide range of mediums: to the traditional textile ones, such as fabric, yarn, and fiber, as well as wood, plaster, plastic, metal and anything else we can find. We have access to large floor looms, screen printing tables, knitting machines, digital printers, long-arm quilting machines, sewing machines, light-tables and more. We also have a well cared for natural dye garden, where we grow plants for natural dyeing, courtesy of Abby Sherrill.
The UNT Fibers program has produced some fantastic alumni, such as Diedrick Brackens, Sarah Zapata, Leisa Rich, Anila Agha, Ann Coddington and more, who have all gone on to do some great things with their bodies of work as well as for the greater fiber and art community. Several of our alumni have gone on to work at an industrial outdoor fabrics production and design company called Perennials Fabrics. Perennials Fabrics is in the DFW area and often hires UNT Fibers graduates for their abundance of knowledge in the field and their hands-on experience.
While students are welcome to major in fibers, they also have a choice to join the Fiber Collective as well. The collective is welcome to all majors; if you’re interested in any fibers techniques, we welcome you to join. We hold workshops for our members, allow them to tell us what they want to learn and let them contribute to the planning of any event. Last semester we did a very ambitious project at the new art building that was built on campus. The project was called Processing Space. This was our opportunity as a collective as well as a program to show what we can do to the public and that we can do it anywhere.
Some of y’all may know that UNT has decided that there is no longer a viable budget or space enough for the Fibers program at the college. They are no longer accepting new students and are stopping regular fiber courses at the end of the 2019 spring semester. Any student that was previously in the program before the closure will be allowed to take special problems courses and still get their fibers degree. The factuality and staff of the fibers program will be moved to other studio art programs at the College of Visual Arts and Design (CVAD).
The big idea of Processing Space was to tell CVAD and UNT Systems that we are still here fighting for ourselves and we can make our art anywhere, we don’t need their space. To help convey that message, we decided to weave a larger than life piece using the brand new CVAD art building that had just opened at the beginning of the 2018-2019 academic year (the same year when the closure of the program was announced). We attached our warp (the vertical yarns) to the roof of the new building and started weaving in the weft (the horizontal yarns) from the ground. This public event was out in the open on Thursday, October 25, 2018 at around 9 am and lasted well into the night, while weavers from the entire program, fibers alumni and the general public, wove on it. At the end of the night the finished result was hung against the building while a projection of different weaving materials, movements, sounds and lights were shown on top of the finished product. This was a very successful project and helped a lot of the affected students get some of their frustrations about CVAD and the closure into something productive.
I would like to take a moment to send a thank you to all the faculty and staff of the UNT Fibers Program for what they have done for their students, as well as to those who have supported us in our time of need. The supportive comments, notes and letters have meant so much to all of us here and they help remind us that we are not alone in our fight. If anyone would like to support the program, there is a UNT Fiber Facebook page, as well as an upcoming Fiber BFA show at the Lightwell Gallery. This show will have works of art from all senior fiber students. The reception is on April 11, 2019 at 5 pm. Any more questions about the closure of the program can be sent to the CVAD Dean of Students Greg Watts, as he was instrumental in the decision.
The Fibers program has meant a lot to me in my time here at UNT. I came into UNT as an art education major. It wasn’t until I was required to take an introduction to weaving class at the beginning of my sophomore year that I fell in love. Thanks to the encouragement of then professor Lesli Robertson, who encouraged me to switch my major and helped push me to find my path, without this program I wouldn’t be the artist that I am today. I wouldn’t have discovered my passion for this art or medium. Currently I am mostly focused on my quilt making. I found quilting a few semesters ago and it really helped me open up and express myself in a way I did not know was missing. I very much enjoy using the long-arm quilting machine named Millie. She and I have a tight bond; she allows me to use her like a giant pencil; with the free-form motion of the giant sewing machine I am able draw anything I want onto cloth with stitches. My body of work currently consists of patch work quilts with midden questions for myself. In my free time, my non-school work is mainly me practicing and honing my crochet skills.
While I am still planning on becoming an educator in the future, I am thankful to have a background in something that is so accessible to everyone and has a deep cultural heritage in almost every ethnic group. My time here at UNT is ending and I am thankful for the classes I was able to take. I am still heartbroken for my fellow students that are not as lucky as I was. Those who will still need to take fibers courses at the end of spring 2019 will be forced to take drawing classes, sculpture classes, design classes and others in substitute for their fibers courses. They do not deserve this. It is an unprofessional attempt of the school in dealing with the closure of the program. They are claiming that the closure will not affect what will be taught to the remaining fiber students, but to think that it is the same degree is incorrect; only on paper is it the same. While we will all get the same degree in name, we will not get the same education.
Special thanks to Amie Adelman, Gabrielle Duggan and Abby Sherrill.