Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Restricted Access (SIA Only)

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Contemporary Art

First Advisor

Morgan Falconer

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Pergam


The history of Western fiber art—from new tapestry works to American fiber movement of the 60s and 70s—is one that is inseparable from the parallel development of craft’s cultural and political history. Activists and leisure craft circles alike employed fiber for its hybrid status as art/craft, subverting its associations to domesticity and the everyday. This contributed largely to fiber’s acknowledgement and institutional acceptance as an important medium of cultural production. Over the recent decades, the advent of the internet and DIY culture gave further fuel to the expanded global popularity for craft, which is mirrored in the frequent visibility of fiber and textiles in contemporary networks of art. This paper examines the works of three international artists—Ernesto Neto, Sarah Zapata, and El Anatsui—to reveal the diverse artistic, cultural, and political trajectories of contemporary fiber that echoes the material’s politicized history. Ultimately, the text identifies contemporary fiber’s deeper connections to social engagement in art through the integration of art and life, responding to the medium’s impact and significance in weaving together an inclusive site of collective and individual lived experience.