Having received her undergraduate degree in Textiles from University of Art and Design (currently part of Aalto University) in Finland and an MFA from RISD's Printmaking Department, Maria Tulokas began teaching at the Textile Department in 1976. She became department head in 1980 -- which position she held until 2005 -- and began expanding the department's connections to the field.
She curated Textiles for the Eighties, a large exhibition of industrially produced fabrics, for the RISD Museum, and participated as a speaker at conferences in the U.S. and abroad. The department kept up with the changing field; through a collaborative project with IBM and software companies the department established its professional computer studio, one of the first at RISD. Most of the digital equipment, including the electronic jacquard loom, digital printer, and industrial knitting machine were acquired through fund raising and donations. The MFA program with a New York based advisory board of leaders in the textile field was established in the early nineties.
Throughout her tenure as department head Maria Tulokas kept developing the curriculum with emphasis on formal issues, meaning in work, and skills, along with their application in material, thus connecting to the mission of the Fine Arts division.
Maria Tulokas is currently teaching part-time and working in her studio.