FWM, A Future for Fabric in Fine Arts

For nearly forty years, the Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM) has been an internationally acclaimed non-profit organization with a visionary purpose: bolster collaborative, public exploration and production of new art work in new materials, with an emphasis on fabric and textile in fine arts.
Founded in 1977 in Philadelphia, FWM has an artist residency program at the center of its programming. Each year the committee invites both emerging and established artists, domestic and international alike, to come to FWM for a residency emphasizing innovation and interfacing with the public. Conceptual artists, sculptors, designers, architects, performers and more have all been a part of FWM, being supplied with the time and tools for exploring and creating new works that incorporate fabric and textile as key media.
08_FWM_Drain_2011_i_71Jim Drain, 2011
Over the years, FWM has expanded its understanding of fabric to include such materials as wire mesh and horsehair, and the results of its laboratory-style approach have ranged from installation and performance pieces to discrete objects to other emergent formats. The intersection of textile with contemporary art at FWM has a rejuvenating effect on a medium sometimes seen as more suited for “craft” than for “art.” In this context, fabric can be reconsidered, experienced as fresh and relevant through the optic of art.
Fern‡ndez_1Fernandez, 2005
In addition to providing artist residencies, FWM functions as an exhibition space, both for product and process. As a contemporary art museum with a regular and varied exhibition calendar, a range of fabric-based fine art is on display. The permanent collection boasts works from prominent artists including Louise Bourgeois, Felix Gonzalex-Torres, Ann Hamilton, Robert Kushner, Anish Kapoor, Glenn Ligon, Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, among others.
042_FWM_Beyond_the_Selvage_i_7936Beyond the Selvage
Simultaneously, process is on display as FWM invites the public to resident artists’ studios, as well as organizes educational workshops, recording and archiving creators speaking about their processes, and maintaining a collection of research, samples and prototypes. Documentation of the experiments and experiences of prior residents, including Marina Abramovic, Marie-Ange Guilleminot, Nick Cave, Roy Lichtenstein and Barbara Bloom, are all contained in the permanent collection.
Along with a unique workshop and a strong museum collection, FWM has expanded over the decades to include a variety of community education programs. Apprentice training is offered to students of all ages, ranging from high school to post-graduate scholars. For younger patrons, a studio program is offered on-site to local grade schoolers, and an online resource guide for teachers is available for free to those looking to bring some of FWM’s spirit into their curriculum.
Cover Photo: Nick Cave, 2011

Courtesy of the Fabric Workshop and Museum