Tactile experience in the digital age
Fiber as a medium crosses boundaries and interfaces with art, design, craft and technology. Inherently multidisciplinary, the field of fiber encompasses, among others, painting, printing, dyeing, pattern design, sewing, quilting, garment construction for fashion and costume, weaving, knitting, crochet, basketry techniques, felting, spinning and paper-making.
The curriculum emphasizes skill development and the generation of ideas through a materials-based process of making. You’ll learn processes of traditional fiber art combined with the use of new digital tools. The need for a tactile experience in response to the digital environment is the most exciting development in our field. Fiber is more relevant and diverse now than ever before.
Our curriculum covers a broad range of traditional and experimental practices in a variety of textile-related areas that are unique within the U.S. Our students immerse themselves in the vocabulary and language of fiber from their sophomore to senior years. During their senior year, students choose a concentration and develop a body of work that culminates their studies and will be exhibited in a senior thesis show.
Professor and Chair
PAULINE VERBEEK-COWART, Professor and chair of the Fiber Department, has been on the faculty of the Kansas City Art Institute since 1997. A native of the Netherlands, she received her BFA (1982) in Fine Art from the Maryland Institute and her MFA in textile design from the University of Kansas (1995). Ms Verbeek-Cowart’s academic and Fine Art careers have garnered her numerous awards including the Kansas City Art Institute’s Distinguished Achievement Award (2014), Excellence in teaching award (2007) and the 2008 Kansas Arts Commission Master Fellowship in Visual Art/Fine Craft. She is one of the leaders in the use of new technologies in hand-weaving and has also conducted research using industrial looms in The Netherlands and the US. Her industrially woven work crosses boundaries between Fine Art and applied textiles and is directed toward structurally textured fabrics for apparel as well as home-furnishings. Her work has been exhibited extensively in both national and international venues including France, Austria, Germany, Japan, Korea and Australia.
Kim Eichler-Messmer is an Associate Professor of Fiber at the Kansas City Art Institute, where she has taught surface design, quilting, and natural dye since 2008. Kim received an MFA in Textiles from the University of Kansas and a BFA in Studio Art from Iowa State University. She creates quilts that explore structure and pattern in the natural world through the use of hand dyed and screen-printed textiles and complex, often improvisational, piecing. Her quilts are constructed of natural materials and she uses dyes and pigments made from plants and insects, many of which she grows or forages
herself. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in numerous solo and juried shows. Kim has collaborated with West Elm and Pottery Barn and has designed two commercial fabric lines inspired by her own hand dyed textiles. She is the author of “Modern Color: An Illustrated Guide to Dyeing Fabric for Modern Quilts” and has been featured in “Quilting with a Modern Slant” by Rachel May and “The Uppercase Compendium of Craft and Creativity” by Janine Vangool, among others.
Marie Bannerot McInerney
Marie Bannerot McInerney is a multidisciplinary artist, curator, and educator. Her site-responsive installations and discrete works in concrete, silk, and canvas consider human agency within the framework of ecological systems, mystical thinking, and natural phenomena. She is a 2018 Charlotte Street Artist Award Fellow and has exhibited across the United States and abroad including shows at the Bellevue Arts Museum (Bellevue, WA), Mildred Lane Kemper Museum (Saint Louis, MO) Friedrich Schiller University (Jena, Germany), and Han Tianheng Art Museum Shanghai (Shanghai City, China). McInerney co-authored an essay in the book, Probing the Skin: Cultural Representations of our Contact Zone and was awarded a Cultural Exchange Grant from the U.S. Embassy in Berlin to present work. Her formative years were spent in Houston, TX before she earned a BFA at the Kansas City Art Institute and a MFA at Washington University in Saint Louis.
McInerney believes there is great power in collaborative practices and has served as co-director and co-curator in two curatorial collaboratives: PLUG Projects (Kansas City, MO) and The Independent Art Market (Saint Louis, MO). She worked in the costume and fashion industry for over a decade as a knitwear designer and manufacturer for SKIF International and as the head dyer/painter for the costume shop at the Opera Theatre Saint Louis. She currently sits on the advisory board for North American Hand Papermaking, is a resident artist at Studios Inc, and serves as Assistant Professor in the Fiber Department at the Kansas City Art Institute.
Once you declare your major, fiber students take the following core courses as they progress from sophomore to senior year. For additional electives and liberal arts courses, download the complete Course Catalog.
- Intro to Surface & Color
- Textile Construction: Weaving
- Fiber Properties
- Hand Construction & Digital Tools
- Advanced Textile Processes
- Senior Fiber/Textiles
- Senior Thesis Seminar
- Professional Practice
Like What You See
For additional examples of student-produced work that displays a wider range of styles, technique and subject matter, browse our expanded photo gallery.
Each major at KCAI has a dedicated three-credit hour professional practice course offered during the junior or senior year. This course is taught by qualified professionals from the specific discipline, and it is designed to give students the information they need to successfully enter their chosen career path upon graduation. Professional practice topics include how to prepare job search materials, including a resume and artist statement, how to seek freelance opportunities, how to work with a gallery, and how to propose an exhibition or collaborative project. Students learn about residencies and graduate schools, and they practice their written and oral communication skills by writing proposals and applications and making presentations. In addition, students have the opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship and financial matters for the artist and designer. This required course is complemented by workshops offered by the Academic Advising and Career Services office.