Rhode Island School Of Design (RISD) Elevates Textile Program With State-Of-The-Art Jacquard Loom, Promising Infinite Creative Possibilities

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — February 9, 2024 — The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) has recently installed a state-of-the-art jacquard loom in its Metcalf Building, elevating its Textiles department to new technological heights. The complex installation required significant structural adaptations, including a steel I-beam “cage” to support the loom’s weight and measures to safeguard the building’s infrastructure.

This cutting-edge Itema loom, operated by technician Polly Spenner 10 TX, boasts unique capabilities like weaving large textiles with singular images and three-dimensional fabric structures. Its advanced design enables the production of textiles with diverse colors, patterns, and layers at exceptional speeds. “The fabric almost pours out of the loom,” remarked Brooks Hagan MFA 02 TX, Dean of Fine Arts at RISD.

“The flexibility of the equipment is extremely important,” stated Anna Gitelson-Kahn MFA 09 TX, Head of the Textiles department. This industrial-grade loom functions in a research and development environment, catering to a wide range of student projects.

RISD’s historical relationship with Jacquard weaving, a precursor to modern computing, dates back to the early 1800s with its original punch-card loom. The new loom is a significant upgrade from the school’s second Jacquard loom, used for 25 years, which facilitated computer-aided design and trained numerous alumni.

Dean Hagan highlights the cultural and technological impact of binary encoding in Jacquard weaving, linking it to sophisticated fabrics and computer programming.

The acquisition of the new loom was a collaborative effort involving RISD faculty, staff, structural engineers, manufacturing partners, and funding from industry partnerships and the Pevaroff-Cohn Endowed Chair discretionary funds. Notable contributors include former Textiles Department Head Mary Anne Friel, vice president of Campus Services Jack Silva, and others.

Hagan anticipates that the loom will inspire students to create innovative works such as banners, tapestries, graphically advanced weaves, and origami-like fabrics. “There are a million possibilities,” he says, underlining the loom’s potential to revolutionize textile design and production at RISD.

Posted: February 11, 2024

Source: The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)