Since its inception in 1977, The Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM) has developed from an ambitious experiment to a unique contemporary art museum, including a significant permanent collection documenting 38 years of artistic innovation, a highly acclaimed on-site and touring exhibition program, and an extensive regional and international educational outreach program of tours, apprenticeships, lectures, and internships.
At the outset, Marion Boulton Stroud
envisioned founding an organization that combined the activities of the Finnish fabric printing company Marimekko—which promotes design excellence in everyday objects—with contemporary printmaking ateliers such as Gemini G.E.L. and Universal Limited Art Editions (U.L.A.E.)—which encourage artists to experiment with techniques unfamiliar to them, such as lithography or etching. With these models, Stroud established an inner-city art education program that provided a creative outlet for people young and old, while also training them for careers in the textile industry.
Within FWM's workshop space, students and artists of all ages have mastered hand screen-printing on fabric, as well as exploring a wide array of new materials and new media. Working alongside FWM's highly trained staff as part of the internationally acclaimed Artist-in-Residence (AIR) Program, artists realize experimental projects that they may not have been able to achieve on their own. Over the years, the artworks that result from this collaborative creative process have pushed the definitions and possibilities of fabric and contemporary art practice by integrating new techniques, applications, and presentations that engage artists and the public comprehensively.
In 1996, the word "Museum" was added to the name of this institution to reflect its growing collection of contemporary art, its commitment to the presentation and preservation of these holdings, and its broadening educational component. The collection now has over 5,600 objects created by more than 500 Artists-in-Residence.