Susan Sklarek has a BA in French and Philosophy from the University of California at Santa Barbara, conducted graduate work in Textiles at California State University in Northridge and earned an MFA in Sculpture from RISD. Her work includes the design of both apparel and interior fabrics for industrial production, woven illustrations for advertising and sculptural pieces for exhibition. She worked for many years as the in-house designer for Stanley Woolen Mills and did freelance projects for other companies. As a consultant for the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, her work involved the analysis and development for reproduction of Anni Albers’ work and was exhibited alongside Albers’ work in retrospective exhibitions in France, Italy, Germany and New York. It was subsequently produced by Maharam Fabrics.
Sklarek has taught in the Textiles department at RISD since 1980 focusing on courses involving handloom weaving, complex weave structures for computer-interfaced looms, fibers and dyeing and off-loom techniques. She also provides advising for senior and graduate thesis projects. She has led workshops at Duksung Women’s University in Seoul, Korea; CEDIM Design Center in Monterey, Mexico; and HGA Convergence. As co-director of the RISD/IBM Joint Project, she was instrumental in the development of the first RISD Textiles CAD lab and the acquisition of a computer-interfaced loom, followed by the acquisition and installation of RISD’s digital industrial jacquard loom. During her many years at RISD, she has had a strong impact on the weaving curriculum and the training of hundreds of RISD students who have gone on to successful careers in diverse areas of the textile field.