The Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM) is an internationally acclaimed contemporary art museum devoted both to the creation and presentation of innovative works of art. Its Artist-in-Residence Program provides artists at all stages of their careers with the opportunity to collaborate with FWM as they experiment with new materials and new media, taking their work in fresh and often unexpected directions. Founded in 1977 by Marion “Kippy” Boulton Stroud (1939-2015), FWM presents ambitious exhibitions which convey a story of contemporary art that unites process with finished works.
FWM originally invited artists to experiment with fabric, and later with a wide range of innovative materials and media. From the outset, FWM also served as an education center for Philadelphia’s youth who, as printing apprentices, learned technical and vocational skills along with approaches to creative expression. Today, FWM is recognized as an internationally acclaimed contemporary art museum, working in collaboration with artists coming from diverse artistic backgrounds including sculpture, installation, video, painting, photography, ceramics, and architecture. Research, construction, and fabrication occur on site in studios (open by appointment) providing visitors with the opportunity to see artwork from conception to completion.
FWM’s permanent collection includes not only completed works of art, but also material research, samples, prototypes, and photography and video of artists making and speaking about their work. This collection and archive, as well as publications, preserve and document the arc of artistic production. FWM brings this spirit of artistic investigation and discovery to the wider public and to local students in particular, ensuring and broadening their access to art and advancing its role as a catalyst for innovation and social connection.
Founded in 1977, The Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM) encourages international artists at all stages of their careers to experiment with new materials and new media in a veritable living laboratory, working with studio staff, educators, and apprentices. Through its renowned Artist-in-Residence Program, FWM’s collaborative process continues to build a permanent collection of some 5,000 works of art and an archive of diverse materials that preserve and document the course of artistic production from inspiration to realization. An ambitious program of exhibitions and publications, a dynamic website, and wide-ranging educational programming enhance FWM’s commitment to conveying a story of contemporary art that unites process with finished works of art of interest to a broad national and international audience.
Since its inception in 1977, The Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM) has developed from an ambitious experiment to a significant contemporary art institution, featuring a museum collection documenting over 40 years of artistic innovation, highly acclaimed exhibitions, and an educational program featuring apprenticeships and a diverse range of public programming.
At the outset, Marion Boulton Stroud (1939-2015) 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 students of all ages, while also training them for careers in the textile industry.
Within FWM’s workshop space, students and artists 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 have realized ambitious and experimental projects that they may not have been able to achieve on their own. Over the years, the artworks resulting from this collaborative process have expanded the possibilities of contemporary art practice with the integration of new techniques, applications, and presentations.
In 1996, the word “Museum” was integrated into the institution’s name to reflect its growing collection of contemporary art, as well as FWM’s commitment to the presentation and preservation of these holdings and related educational programming.
Susan L. Talbott served as Executive Director from 2016 through 2019, during which time FWM more than doubled its attendance and professionalized its operations. Christina Vassallo joined FWM as Executive Director in January 2020, following nearly six years as Executive and Artistic Director at SPACES Cleveland. To learn more, please visit the FWM Press Room.
Executive Director’s Vision for The Fabric Workshop and Museum
Artists are among society’s most compelling communicators of ideas and it is the charge of the Fabric Workshop and Museum to push their ideas forward. My vision is to increase interest in our mission through innovative approaches to collaborating with artists, creatively engaging our communities, and achieving inclusivity at all levels of the organization.
By looking through the eyes of our audience members—whether they are artists, students, scholars, or other kinds of learners—we will present stories about the importance of contemporary art in today’s world. This requires us to provide artists unparalleled access to resources for experimentation, while also revealing the artistic process. Additionally, I am committed to building institutional visibility and organizational sustainability, making sure that all Philadelphians recognize FWM as a resource for them.
Board of Directors
Marion Boulton Stroud (1939-2015)
Founder and Artistic Director (1977-2015)
Maja Paumgarten Parker, President
Jill Bonovitz, Vice President
Eugene Mopsik, Treasurer
Margaret “Maggie” A. McGreal, Secretary
Christina Vassallo, Executive Director
Lynn Leonard Hitschler
Ann T. Loftus, Esquire
John B. Ravenal
Theodore R. Aronson, Emeritus
Richard P. Jaffe, Esquire, Emeritus
Katherine Sokolnikoff, Emeritus
David F. Stephens, Emeritus
Cynthia Stroud, Emeritus
Anne F. Wetzel, Emeritus
Artist Advisory Committee
Primarily serving as advisors, advocates, and ambassadors, Artist Advisory Committee members support FWM’s goal of collaborating with artists to develop an ambitious schedule of residencies, exhibitions, and programs. Past members include James Carpenter, Lauren Cornell, Amada Cruz, Michael Darling, Helen Drutt English, Thelma Golden, David Allen Hanks, James Melchert, John Ollman, Betty Saar, Dianne Perry Vanderlip, Robert Venturi, Kara Walker, and Betty Woodman.
John B. Ravenal, Chairman
Valerie Cassel Oliver
Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada