Explore Fiber is a collaborative website showcasing and exploring fiber as a fine art material.
(Photo credit Lilly Dyer)
Fine Arts Center
Greenville, South Carolina
April Dauscha: www.aprildauscha.com
Fine Arts Center: https://fac.greenvilleschools.us/home
When did you start working with fiber? Who was instrumental in teaching you?
I’d say my interest in sewing started as a child while stitching projects with my grandmother. But it was during school for Fashion Design that I was introduced to a variety of fiber techniques – this is where I found my love of surface design and textile construction. Eventually I went to graduate school at Virginia Commonwealth University and studied under Susan
Iverson – she was an excellent fiber mentor during my time at VCU where I became interested in lacemaking – specifically needle lace.
How do your students respond to fiber and (generally) what kinds of comments do they haveabout working with fiber?
Fiber is a little bit of everything – soft sculpture, fashion, graphic design, performance, installation, etc. and because of that, I find that every student, no matter what their interest, is able to work in, and fall in love with some aspect of fiber. Generally speaking, my students love how playful and experimental the medium can be as they build their portfolios and websites.
Was the fiber program in place when you started there? If so, maybe a brief background history. If you set it up, what was the motivator/impetus to create this 4 year program?
The fiber program at the Fine Arts Center (FAC) was not in place when I started – I was hired and had moved from Chicago to help start the program. When I arrived in July of 2016, there was an empty room, a roster of students, and funds from secured donors. The new program had been in the works for a year prior, with input from the FAC school Director, the Visual Arts Department, Greenville County School District, and representatives from NC State University.
Once I arrived, I was tasked with building the curriculum and outfitting the studio with equipment, tools, furniture, and supplies. The entire program is underwritten by five companies from the textile industry in upstate South
Carolina – SAGE Automotive Interiors, Glen Raven, Springs Creative, Inman Mills, and Alice Manufacturing. We have an ongoing relationship with these companies through internships, design competitions, and semester field trips. The Fine Arts Center, located in Greenville, South Carolina, provides high school students with pre-professional study in both the
Performing and Visual Arts.
How does your personal work inform the fiber program?
My love of lace has certainly been a big influence in the classroom – I have created a unit project for students where they learn a more traditional needle lace technique for sampling, but then encourage them to become more experimental with the technique in their final projects. I want them to push the boundaries of more traditional techniques. I like to encourage a lot of risk-taking, material experimentation, and attention to craftsmanship, while encouraging them to embrace their successes and their failures. They really seem to respond to that!
How do you see the program at your school segueing into the broader fiber community?
I think my students leave with an introduction and an appreciation for the medium, the ability to talk about their work, and the ability to create thoughtful and engaging work that relies on conceptual development and research. They are also thoroughly prepared to take on serious work at some of the top ranking fiber programs at national colleges and universities – I have had two students move on to SAIC on merit scholarships,and also have fiber students who went on to study fibers at NC State and VCU.