This semester has been special. Fall 20 students entered back into the classroom environment open and willing to participate in critical discussions, engage with their peers and faculty, and take on the challenge of making work during this difficult time in our world history. The term “emergent” speaks to the effort of this group—to bring into being, to meet the moment, and to flourish.

This generation of young artists is defining themselves as makers amidst uncertainty, division, and change.

The ability to overcome the mental hurdles of screen-time fatigue, an ever-changing news cycle, and isolation from peers, friends, and family demonstrates the flexibility and resilience of these students in pursuing what is meaningful to them when there is no business as usual.

The Fiber department proudly presents its Fall 2020 End of Semester Exhibition, Emergent.

The galleries within the exhibition—Connectivity, Dreamscape, Familial, Landscape and Redact—take into consideration an orientation of self in relationship to the current moment. Now more than ever, it is important to bring together these works, and although many were made in separate spaces, they are in conversation with each other as documents of what it feels like to be living in this time.


The Connectivity gallery represents the technicalities of making and speaks to placement, systems, and methods of connection. Works in this gallery demonstrate finding ways to shift, rotate, and maneuver within and outside of a set system.


Dreamscape offers a space for the wanderings of the mind in moments of slippage. Works found in this gallery describe the desire to escape the confines of the conscious world into interior worlds to get lost, create narratives, and envision alternate futures.


Works in the Familial gallery recall and connect to the stories of previous owners, the history of materials, and the intangible effect we have on each other. Through works in this gallery, we are challenged to explore how we know and how we remember.


The Landscape gallery is composed of works that consider vantage point and positionality within or outside of place. Abstracted mapping, organic edges, and expansive space offers the opportunity to observe, withdraw, and spread your wings.


Redact is characterized by works that explore the creative and destructive possibilities of mark-making by obscuring and revealing. Works in this gallery make tangible what is absent by inserting counter-narratives to recontextualize, reframe, and redact.

Guest Curators

Lexie Abra Millikan and Garry Noland served as guest curators for the Fall 2020 Fiber End of Semester show Emergent. Together they reviewed the student submissions and organized the work into virtual galleries.

Garry Noland on Emergent

I haven’t given up on poetry or non-fiction, but I have been reading, for the first time, lots of so-called “fiction.” I guess it’s because the images and feelings gleaned from the fiction seem just as real as the images and feelings gleaned from poetry and non-fiction. So, as Chrissie Hynde and Kash Santana both said in their own versions of A Thin Line Between Love & Hate, there’s very little to distinguish between fact and fiction.

Some of my favorites from Emergent are Camtu Nguyen, Nathan Ford, Els Overtoom, Christopher Velez, and Emma Hixson. The work that sticks most with me however is the gentle and modest Flower Power by Rachel Tucker. Part of the work’s appeal is obviously in the not perfect but honest photograph depicting the work (and I assume the artist?). Tucker’s mask/sculpture/disguise is doing so many things: it’s filtering the wearer from outer reality, it’s projecting the wearer’s inner light. It makes me think of a VR headset but on an intensely personal level. Finally, Flower Power recalls some of the psychedelic imagery from the late 60s/early 70s in which beams of light and color would both emanate from and sink into a human figure. Here’s where the thin line between fact and fiction comes in: VR projections may look real, but the intentions of Flower Power are real.

-Garry Noland

Lexie Abra Millikan

Lexie Abra Millikan is a fiber artist and instructor based in Paducah, KY. After earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Kansas City Art Institute, Lexie began teaching and lecturing throughout the Midwest and beyond. She is Fiber Artist in Residence at the Paducah School of Art & Design and Executive Director of the Yeiser Art Center, and has earned several awards, grants, and scholarships for her dyeing and surface design work.

Garry Noland

Garry Noland is a maker since 1978. Noland’s home and studio is on land originally belonging to the peoples of the Osage and Kickapoo Nations. Noland is currently showing work at Tiger Strikes Asteroid and Time and Space Gallery, both in Chicago. A show titled The Stubborn Influence of Painting will be at Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art in 2021. Noland earned a BA History of Art from UMKC in 1978.

Headshot image credit: Keith Tolch

Fiber Awards

The Fiber Department is pleased to present awards bestowed by our guest curators, Lexie Abra Millikan and Garry Noland as well as our very first Student Choice Award. We named this year’s awards after weave structures in honor of our chair and master weaver, Pauline Verbeek-Cowart, who has been on sabbatical this Fall and whom we look forward to welcoming back in the spring!

Tabby Awards:

Tabby weave, also known as plain weave, is a tough, hard-wearing, fundamental weave structure. Its strength is in its simplicity. The straightforward structure allows for infinite variations and combinations of fibers, yarns and surface design techniques. It is truly the foundation of weaving.

Emma Hixson – Reddish Egret & Recent Incidents of Censorship

Nan Watson – Lammergeier

Kate Fromm – Fathers and Daughters

Twill Award:

Twill weaves are often characterized by their closely woven diagonals and create a beautiful, strong and heavy cloth. It is most commonly recognized as the structure of your favorite jeans which makes it the perfect student choice award – it is universal, tough and everyone loves it!

A tie!

Christopher Velez – Tree Headpiece

Larkin Winters – unwoven thought series I & II

Satin Award:

Satin weave is created when a warp is floated across four or more wefts then tied down with one thread. The resulting fabric is smooth, drapey, luxurious and sought after for its incredible beauty and sheen. It is the inspiration for our two Satin Awards of excellence.

Els Overtoom – Tintern Abbey Stanza Three

Nathan Ford – Who’d Fall In Love With a Chicken With its Head Cut Off?

Velvet Award:

Velvet was historically difficult to produce. Woven from the finest silks, velvet displays a rich depth of color and texture from the cut woven pile. Velvet was exclusively available to the very wealthy until quite recently because of the complexity of its construction. It seems only fitting that we name our Best of Show this year, the Velvet Award!

Gabriella Poulos – Morgan and Manly & Nobody was Home in the Town