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UNT fibers students speak out on the closing of fibers program

UNT fibers students speak out on the closing of fibers program

UNT fibers students speak out on the closing of fibers program
August 23
10:01 2018

The College of Visual Arts and Design, CVAD, is discontinuing the fibers major at the end of the 2018-2019 school year, and a number of fibers students are speaking out.

On Aug. 15, less than two weeks before classes start, CVAD Dean Greg Watts sent an email to all CVAD students announcing the closure of the concentration.

“We cannot, in good conscience, offer a program without also being able to dedicate to it the appropriate space,” the email stated.

Despite a new $70 million facility, which is nearing completion, there was no financial avenue to create the needed space for the fibers program. Fibers had about 15 people majoring in the program, three of whom spoke on the matter.

The Daily reached out to UNT officials, however request for comment was not returned.

Myranda Newnan-Noah, a fibers and art education senior, was planning to go to grad school for fibers until the announcement a few days ago.

“It makes me really sad to see a program end that has enriched not just my life, but other people’s lives a lot,” Newnan-Noah said. “It’s like they don’t care about us anymore. We started out as a small program, and we are still a small program. Just because we are small doesn’t mean we don’t make a big impact.”

Last year, fibers students were told their classes would be located in the Welch building, the old art complex.

“They said there is not enough money for [fibers], but they built a giant building worth $70 million, and when they built that building, they knew we were not going to be in there,” Newnan-Noah said. “It is kind of disrespectful. That’s what it feels like.”

Phoebe Adams, fibers and art history senior, said UNT has the last fibers program in Texas, and it’s difficult to find a program like it anymore.

“My art history background is what kept me interested in fibers, especially in today’s political climate,” Adams said. “The female makers who have been such a rich part of the history of textiles has been really empowering to me and empowering to a lot of people in our department.”

The fibers major is small, but Lauren Gray, a fibers and fashion design senior, said it affects other majors in the CVAD. Students in the fashion design major are required to take a fibers class as part of their coursework.

“I don’t think they are getting the full picture of how many students we affect, not just within fibers, but across CVAD as a whole,” Gray said.

Claire Watkins, a painting and drawing and art history senior, agreed, saying she has used the skills from fibers in her major.

“A lot of people who go through a lot of critique in painting and drawing have some element of fibers in their work,” Watkins said. “I think it is really sad we won’t be learning those same techniques anymore.”  

Lesli Robertson, a former lecturer in fibers at UNT, also spoke on the discontinuation and the importance of an education in fibers. After working for UNT, Robertson launched a consulting business and still works in the fibers field.

She also received an Master in Fine Arts in fibers from UNT, which launched her career in the art form.

“I learned a tremendous amount and found a place that connected me to the larger world through textiles,” Robertson said. “It launched a lifelong pursuit of knowledge and basically my career.”

Robertson said many UNT fibers students are successful in the business. Fibers alumni work in places such as a textile museum in Washington D.C. or a fabric workshop in Philadelphia, and others work as designers at large companies.

Adams also discussed the employability of fibers majors. She said there are many companies that want to hire UNT fibers majors.

“People who aren’t in fibers don’t realize — administration especially — that we are very employable,” Adams said. “They don’t see how much fibers students actually impact the workforce and what a valuable resource we are.”

Robertson said fibers is a part of daily life, being that people are engaged with knit, woven, dyed, embroidered, stamped and printed objects on a daily basis.

When she learned about UNT closing the fibers major, Robertson was leading a textile arts workshop.

“I found out that UNT decided not to invest at the same time I was celebrating a successful workshop where we focused on moving textiles forward into new and contemporary designs,” Robertson said.

Robertson has heard “sheer disappointment” and “anger” from fibers students, but Watts’ email promised all students affected will be accommodated.

The closure will be phased throughout the next year to help students make adjustments to their degree program.

“All students with degree plans on file for a fibers concentration will be accommodated and will be able to graduate with the degree for which they have a degree plan,” the email stated.

Associate Dean Denise Baxter and Studio Arts Chair Lauren Lake will be at the current CVAD location on Welch street on Aug. 20 and 21 to answer any questions from fibers students. They will also come to fibers classes at the beginning of the semester to address the issue.

Robertson does not agree with the decision to remove the major, saying the college is not evolving.  

“I understand the need to make shifts in the college by restructuring programs in regards to budgetary concerns,Robertson said. “But I think the college is lacking the ability to evolve and become more relevant as a fine arts school. By taking fibers out of the college, you are removing a key foundation to the arts.”

Featured Image: Courtesy Facebook

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Devin Rardin

Devin Rardin

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7 Comments

  1. Student
    Student August 23, 10:43

    The building was $70 million, not 17.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Dianne
    Dianne August 23, 15:00

    Everything in this article is so relavent. It is beyond my ability to comprehend how a Dean of such a prestigious school can be so ignorant and shortsighted. Amie Adelman has given her soul to that program and when speaking to her students you see the same passion. This REEKS of a “good ole boy “woman’s work” attitude. Were the dean to open his eyes he would become aware of the fact that even he benefits every single day from the minds and artistic talent of people in fiber. It is breath and life in our every day existence.

    Reply to this comment
  3. thejohnadelman
    thejohnadelman August 25, 09:52

    gutless, conniving administration. They knew all along they were going to discontinue the program and waited till the last moment to announce. Perhaps a discontinuance of their jobs is more appropriate. FIGHT FOR UNT FIBERS!

    Reply to this comment
  4. Shhh
    Shhh August 26, 20:15

    The corporate college. Not the only highly questionable decision of high impact, seemingly illogical and short-sighted, with NO regard to or input from students at CVAD being made.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Allison
    Allison August 26, 23:37

    This is completely ridiculous. There has never been “room” for fibers at unt. I took fibers as a part of my course plan in metals (like many other cvad students), and they were always spread all over campus, so this is no excuse. Just because you don’t understand the importance of a thing, does not make that thing unimportant.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Eva
    Eva March 05, 13:43

    Quick correction: not ALL CVAD students were emailed. Only about 10 were. I’m enrolled in the major and I didn’t find out until I heard from a friend. This is by far the most passionate major at UNT, and they ripped that away from us, using a lousy excuse. “There’s no space” is what we were told. If there’s room for a coffee shop in the new art building, there’s room for the fibers program.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Really?
    Really? July 25, 08:16

    There were over 25 majors in fibers, more majors than other programs that utilize “space” in CVAD.

    Reply to this comment

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