In Textiles students experiment with new materials, technologies and techniques to design and create innovative fabric and fine art. Professors work closely with both graduate and undergraduate students to encourage the development of a personal vision and an understanding of larger artistic, social and cultural contexts.
- 4-year undergraduate program
- 2-year graduate program
In the studio
Students work with the high-end equipment used in the field—multiharness handlooms, computer-interfaced looms and an electronic jacquard loom—to master advanced weaving techniques, and both hand-operated and electronic knitting machines allow for further exploration of knitted fabrics.
Sydney Foreman | senior
“I came to RISD knowing that I wanted to work with color as much as possible, so Textiles is a perfect major for me. It places a huge emphasis on color as well as materiality, emerging from the intersection of 2D and 3D, fine art and design, and digital and hand work. And due to the slow-paced, communal nature of the work, my peers in the department have become my family. We work together—side by side—at all hours of the night.”
Mary Anne Friel | department head
“Our approach to textiles is distinct in its technical depth and artistic breadth. Students are encouraged to draw, paint and work by hand, while also learning advanced computer programs and industrial techniques. This combination results in work that is structurally sophisticated yet expressively free. Above all, it’s highly personal. End use is considered throughout the creative process, often resulting in entirely new discoveries for apparel, interior and fine arts applications.”
After RISD, Textiles alumni are prepared to energize the field by expressing their personal vision. Many graduates go on to work as surface, pattern and fabric designers for large corporations or small studios, while others create exotic knitwear, establish small production companies, produce performance pieces, make fine art, teach, curate, run galleries and more.
Alumni at work
When Rachel Doriss first came to RISD, she was already head over heels in love with textiles and planned to open a small weaving studio in rural Vermont. But while studying both printed and woven techniques, she developed an itch to explore practical applications within the textiles industry. Once Doriss moved to NYC after graduation, she initially landed a job designing printed scarves at Echo before joining Mark Pollack 76 TX at his namesake firm POLLACK, where she is now vice president and design director.
"RISD opened an incredible door for me – and changed my life," says the designer and co-owner of LA Mills. After working as an executive vice president and director of design at Weariest Sil-Tex Mills and as a senior designer at Jack Lenor Larsen, Koch now designs and produces upholstery and drapery fabrics for the global market through his high-end production facility in Los Angeles. He considers himself a champion of America's new cottage textiles industry, but also enjoys working with larger production operations in India, Thailand and Cambodia via Michael Koch Designs, his consulting firm.
Now based in NYC, Liz Collins is constantly inventing new ways of making art with textiles, challenging boundaries between painting, fiber arts and installations. She often creates spaces that envelop viewers in vibrating color fields, elevating yarn beyond the body to engage with architectural space. In each phase of her 15-part Knitting Nation performance series, she collaborated with futuristically uniformed workers to create large-scale pieces using manually operated knitting machines to comment on technology, trade, labor and the fashion industry.