TACTILE Experience in the digital environment

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.

Full-time Faculty

Pauline Verbeek-Cowart

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

Assistant Professor

Kim Eichler-Messmer is an Assistant Professor in Fiber at the Kansas City Art Institute, where she has taught surface design, quilting, and entrepreneurship since 2008. Eichler-Messmer received an MFA in Textiles from the University of Kansas and a BFA in Drawing and Printmaking from Iowa State University. She was an Artist in Residence at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, TN. Her hand dyed, one of a kind quilts have been exhibited nationally in numerous solo and juried shows and featured on prominent design blogs including Apartment Therapy and Design Sponge. She was commissioned by Pottery Barn Teen to create an exclusive design for their catalog and select stores and her hand dyed quilts were featured in the West Elm Catalog. Eichler-Messmer is the author of “Modern Color: An Illustrated Guide to Dyeing Fabric for Modern Quilts” and her work has been included in “Quilting with a Modern Slant” by Rachel May, “The Essential Guide To Modern Quilt Making” edited by Heather Grant, and “The Uppercase Compendium of Craft and Creativity” by Janine Vangool.



Marie Bannerot McInerney

Assistant Professor

Marie Bannerot McInerney is an interdisciplinary studio artist and educator. Her process driven work investigates conceptions of fragility, instability, truth, and experiential knowledge.

She has exhibited across the United States and abroad including shows at the Bellevue Arts Museum in Bellevue, WA, Mildred Lane Kemper Museum in Saint Louis, MO, Corcoran College in Washington, DC, The Schiller Garden House at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany, and The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in Saint Louis, MO. McInerney co-authored an essay in the newly published book, Probing the Skin: Cultural Representations of our Contact Zone and was recently awarded a Cultural Exchange Grant from the U.S. Embassy in Berlin to travel and present work. She co-founded The Independent Art Market, an artist collaborative in Saint Louis, MO and worked in the costume and fashion industry for over a decade as a designer and manufacturer of knitwear for SKIF International and as the head dyer/painter at Opera Theatre Saint Louis.

McInerney’s formative years were spent in Houston, TX before she earned her BFA at the Kansas City Art Institute and her MFA at Washington University in Saint Louis as a Danforth Scholar. She is one of six artists that make up the curatorial collaboration, PLUG Projects, she is Vice President of Annual Meetings for the Friends of Dard Hunter, a contemporary hand papermaking organization, and serves as Assistant Professor in the Fiber Department at the Kansas City Art Institute.


Adjunct Faculty


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.

Fiber Major Requirements

Double Major Art History & Fiber Requirements

Double Major Creative Writing & Fiber Requirements

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.


Professional Practice

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.