Yue Song, "Information Ecology Growth" (detail)

“Serving the SDA Community with Equity & Inclusion” by Christine K. Miller

I had the privilege of teaching AP Art History during my tenure at the School for the Talented and Gifted in Dallas, Texas. It was glorious, marching through time, beginning with the Paleolithic age until we reached the Contemporary. However, there was an underlying problem with the course. The textbook, or “the canon” as it is called, gave short shrift to fiber art and artists that didn’t fit into the narrow ethnographic profile deemed important enough to include.

I am thankful when organizations such as SDA recognize that the art world is so much richer and deeper when the voices of historically excluded and underrepresented groups are included. SDA created the Equity, Access and Integration Committee in order to generate opportunity and inclusion for the broad diversity of viewpoints and voices encompassed in our community. 

  • SDA’s Equity, Access and Integration Committee (EAI) exists to hold space for and amplify the voices of historically underrepresented communities in the fiber and textile art world. The EAI Committee was formed to serve as SDA’s indelible response within its administrative framework to address systemic injustices of all kinds, including racial, gender and ability-based discrimination. Members of this committee take on the responsibility to keep SDA and its community accountable and committed to achieving this goal. This work will contribute to building an inclusive, mindful and empowered community of artists and leaders enriched in the field of textile and fiber art as a whole.

To this end, SDA’s Education Committee set to work to examine, rethink and expand our definition of student and educator. Our world is dynamic and ever changing, and our education systems have gone through seismic shocks during the Covid-19 pandemic. Approaches have broadened in formal education to include home schooling, online access to museum education, artist/teachers and other innovative learning opportunities. 

College students from various universities attending SDA’s Future Tense exhibition at Edwardsville Art Center. Edwardsville, Illinois, 2019.

SDA’s robust awards and grants program has been in place for students and educators for some time, but our definitions of who a student or educator might be have broadened. In order to serve our members and the greater fiber community more equitably, SDA has crafted new definitions to provide more opportunities for recognition and support. 

  • SDA recognizes an Educator to be a knowledgeable instructor in their field, who leads students at a range of levels. This includes, but is not limited to, K-12, homeschool, college, community organizations, craft institutions, visual art organizations, intergenerational learning environments, and unlimited other opportunities an individual has to share skills and knowledge with a student(s).

Bryana Bibbs, a member of the SDA Education Committee, is a teaching artist at various community arts centers in the Chicago area such as the Evanston Art Center and The Art Institute of Chicago. Her project The We Were Never Alone Project is a weaving workshop for victims and survivors of domestic violence. Community arts outreach is an important pathway to reach people not in a formal educational institution.

The We Were Never Alone Project created by Bryana Bibbs.

  • SDA defines a Student as someone who is engaged in a mentor/mentee relationship with a knowledgeable instructor in their field, for the purpose of gaining instruction. This includes, but is not limited to: institutional settings including K-12; community organizations; craft institutions; visual art organizations; intergenerational learning environments, and other experiences in which an individual may learn, absorb, practice, or create new skills and knowledge over a period of time.

Astrid Tauber is an example of a homeschooled 13 year old who spins yarn, weaves fabric and creates beautiful garments. She is entering Austin Community College this month as a dual-enrolled high school student to begin her Associates degree in Fashion Design with a goal to study abroad in Paris after she graduates. Her independent study has allowed her to dig deeply into her passion for fibers and fashion.

Astrid Tauber, weaver, spinner, garment designer.

Our updated definitions of student and educator ensure artists like Bryana and Astrid are able to access opportunities through SDA. Share the news of the important work SDA is doing in your fiber network, and continue growing this vital community of fiber artists, teachers, and students into strong and beautiful cloth.

College students from various universities attending SDA’s Beyond the Surface Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, 2019.

–Christine K. Miller, SDA Education Committee Chair

Education Committee Mission:

  • Provides opportunities, resources, and community to students and educators
  • Oversees Outstanding Student and Creative Promise Awards, and the Educator Grant
  • Organizes programming for students and educators

1 Comment

  • Teresa Paschke says

    June 17, 2022 at 6:34 am

    I'm happy to see SDA expand the definition of and opportunities for educators and students. Nice work!

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