John Paul Morabito "For Félix (Magenta Like The Ecstasy Of Dancing With Sorrow)" (detail)

SDA 2023: A Year in Review

Thank you to everyone who made this year at SDA possible! We are fortunate to have such passionate staff, board, volunteers, committees, and members who continually help us grow, learn, and expand. From the launch of our Online Workshop Series, to 4 unique Surface Design Journals and more, we accomplished quite a bit this year. Here’s a look back at some highlights from SDA for 2023, and we can’t wait to see what comes next in 2024!

(EM)power (EM)brace (EM)body


Curated by Katayoun Bahrami, (EM)power (EM)brace (EM)body, includes artists whose work explores concepts of bodies from social, political, and psychological points of view. The work considers the body as a site for liberation, reclamation, or empowerment. From body autonomy to traditional constructs of beauty and gender, works about the body can be deeply personal and/or challenge, dismantle, and speak to larger societal structures.

Sue Weil, Life Without CHOICE, 2022. Cotton, wool, tencel, 30 x 46 inches.



Juried by Natalie Baxter, FUTURE TENSE 2023 celebrates the creative work of student artists, designers, and makers working with or inspired by fiber or textile materials or techniques. This exhibition offers a glimpse into the future of contemporary fibers by presenting the very best work being made by students in the field today.

Kate Kosek, Wandering Woman, 2021. Fabric, Polyfil, upholstery piping, steel, 22 x 18 x 7 inches.

SDA 45th Anniversary


The 45th Anniversary issue revisits the evolution of the Journal, to take a deep dive into the issues that mattered then, and still matter today. The issue begins with former editor Patricia Malarcher’s essay which underlines the necessity of critical writing in our field initiated by Charles Talley. Noted fiber scholar Jessica Hemmings, whose contributions span the tenures of Malarcher, Marci McDade and Elizabeth Kozlowski, explores the broad range of themes in the 2010s which include labor, community and inclusivity. The issue closes with an excerpted conversation among board members of SDA, moderated by Karen Baker, which looks to the future of our field. The reprints which follow each essay highlight just a few of the important contributions to the journal over the years. 



Curated by Destini Ross, Afterlives, features artists who consider an artwork’s lifespan before and beyond the moment of creation. Whether material or conceptual, their artistic transformations foreground lived experiences including migration, childhood, disability, and climate anxiety. These artists pull us in close and invite us to connect through shared identities or empathize with those outside our own. 

Kevin Tracy, Variant 1, 2021. Aluminum foil, synthetic polymer paint, screws, graphite, sodium silicate, 32 x 24 x 22 inches.



Juried by Anita Fields, the artists selected for Safekeeping take bold risks. In their diverse practices, they look to innovative techniques that are cutting-edge and experimental. They don’t hold back their thoughts, influences, or what drives their work. Their artist statements reveal highly personal, compelling stories of the complexities of being human. They speak to sorrow, joy, relationships to land, heritage, and the fragile state of our environment. The makers of Safekeeping lead us into their worlds to share their clarity and comfort when settling into the folds and physical movements of their practices. They find contentment in the meditative, repetitive rhythms of artistic handwork. The works become entry points for healing, exposing hopeful possibilities, truths, and surfaces where the light shines through.

Talia Connelly, My Blood Is Proof They Exist: Pt. I, The Migration, 2018. Mohair, wool, rayon, metallic, opalescent slit film yarn, 60 x 54 inches. [First Place Award Winner]

Traditions & Techniques in Knit & Crochet


“Knitting and crochet seem to be everywhere these days. There are myriad artists on social media and no shortage of how-to videos on YouTube. Flip the pages of fashion magazines or take a walk down the runway to find couture versions of grandmom’s favorite hand-made sweater. Big box stores are full of ready- to-wear collections including crocheted bags and dresses with a 70’s vibe. Even the hallowed halls of art museums are finally embracing knit and crochet artists. Popular culture has apparently “discovered” what we’ve known all along: the allure (some might say obsession) of age-old traditions and techniques for knitting and crochet.” –Elizabeth Kozlowski, Surface Design Journal Editor

Textile Talks


SDA was grateful to take part in ten Textile Talks this year in partnership with the International Quilt Museum, Quilt Alliance, and Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA). Textile Talks are presented free of charge. If you enjoy these talks, help ensure they continue with a gift today.

Lasting Impression: SDA International Exhibition in Print


“Readers may recognize a familiarity, a closeness or shared intimacy in the works chosen for SDA’s Eighth Annual International Exhibition in Print. This year we had the privilege of welcoming Lorna Hamilton Brown, a UK-based artist working with social practice and community-based art. A knitter at heart, she brings an international perspective brimming with a contagious appreciation for contemporary fibers. For this year’s EIP, Hamilton Brown challenges artists to leave ‘a lasting impression,’ to make a work of art that will resonate for years to come. It’s a difficult enterprise, trying to tell a story about our present while grappling with the long-term repercussions of Covid-19 and the environmental impacts of climate change.” –Elizabeth Kozlowski, Surface Design Journal

Awards & Grants


SDA’s Awards & Grants Programs supported the creative growth of over 60 individuals in 2023. Recipients demonstrated excellence in the studio, professional development, organized exhibition opportunities and events, and engaged in practices that positively impact their community. SDA’s 2023 Grants and Awards are made possible by a generous grant from the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation.

Michelle Knappe, Will You Sleep With Me?, 2023. Embroidered, quilted, cyanotype, painted, and shibori and batik-dyed fabrics with batting and found furniture, approximately 36 x 80 x 40 inches. Photo by the artist. [Creative Promise Award Winner]

Shaping Space: A Conversation of Art, Disability, and Care


We explored the intersections of art, disability, and care with four textile artists: Raisa Kabir, Ange Altenhofen, Francisco echo Eraso with moderator, Valarie Poitier. Kabir’s work addresses cultural anxieties surrounding nationhood, textile identities, and the cultivation of borders contextualized within discourse around disability, labor, and queer racialized bodies. Altenhofen creates functional sculptures that are activated and transformed through interaction—touch is integral as a means to communicate meaning through her hand-embroidered braille works. echo Eraso’s work addresses issues of dis/identification, displacement, slow movement, and craft as central to his politics of care as foundational to queer-crip world building and is an organizer, educator, and consultant working towards greater accessibility for all. Each encourages us to think about the ways in which we create, hold, and shape space in the arts.

Life Lines


Curated by Sébastien Carré, the textile techniques represented in Life Lines require time to create which allows the artists space to reflect. For some artists featured in this show their work is a reflection of themselves, is about the process of self-improvement, faces their own past, or deals with a current situation. Some artists represent themselves by creating an ode to the nature that surrounds them or by expressing the damage we are all creating through pollution and overconsumption.

Debra Weiss, Dressed With No One To See, 2023. Copper, fabric, and cotton yarn, 40 x 20 x 13 inches.

Seeing / Being Seen: LGBTQIA+ Writers on LGBTQIA+ Fiber Artists


Led by Guest Editor, Rebekah Frank, this special edition of the Journal focuses on LGBTQIA+ writers exploring LGBTQIA+ artists, highlighting the complexity of intersectional identity and how it informs creative practices in fiber at a time when LGBTQIA+ rights are increasingly under attack.

“I hope that this collection of articles, essays and interviews demonstrates that to know someone who identifies as LGBTQIA+ is to know just one thing about them. The essentializing of someone’s identity is too easily used as an excuse to minimize, ostracize and de-humanize each other, ignoring all the possible points of connection, the most important being our shared humanity. This compilation of essays, interviews and articles by LGBTQIA+ writers about LGBTQIA+ textile artists offers an invitation to see and be seen, in all our complexity.”  Rebekah Frank

This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Have something that you’re thankful for and want to celebrate and share with SDA’s community? Comment below to let people know! Cheers to 2023, I hope everyone’s holidays are filled with warmth and joy.

Lauren Sinner, SDA Managing Editor

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