KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Jan. 12, 2011) – The fiber department at Kansas City Art Institute, a private four-year college of art and design, recently acquired a Jacquard loom, a machine that computerizes the Jacquard weaving technique. The newly acquired loom is a modernized digital model which will significantly enhance the department’s advanced course offerings and makes the loom an appealing digital output option for all students, not just fiber majors.
"The fiber department at KCAI has one of the best equipped weaving studios among all art schools in the nation,” said Pauline Verbeek-Cowart, chair of the department. “Seven computerized dobby looms give students the ability to generate and execute complex designs in a fraction of the time it would take on standard floor looms. The recent addition of the AVL Jacquard Loom gives students access to the latest step in the evolution of computerized jacquard hand weaving technology.”
Erika Hanson, an instructor in the department, said the addition of the Jacquard loom completes the weaving program at KCAI. “Now a student can work through all levels of hand looms,” Hanson said. “Now there is an immediacy to the design process that will allow for greater exploration into its possibilities.”
The Jacquard loom was invented in the early 1800s by Joseph Marie Jacquard, a silk-weaver from France. The machine improved on the standard textile loom by incorporating punch cards where designs were mapped, which controlled the weaving, allowing the user to create intricate patterns in their textiles. For all intents and purposes the Jacquard loom was the first of its kind to automate the design process and eliminate arduous and tedious time requirements in weaving fabrication. It also allowed for a design to be saved and utilized numerous times by storing information on the punch cards. According to an article about computing history from Columbia University, because these cards were one of the first recorded uses of an algorithm within a hand operated machine, the original Jacquard loom has been described as the world’s first computer program. The Jacquard loom acquired by the fiber department at KCAI utilizes digitized design work and computer programs such as Photoshop.
About the Kansas City Art Institute
The Kansas City Art Institute is a private, independent four-year college of art and design awarding the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with majors in animation, art history, ceramics, digital filmmaking, digital media, fiber, graphic design, illustration, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture and studio art with an emphasis on creative writing. The college also offers certificate programs in Community Arts and Service Learning and in Asian Studies for students enrolled in the B.F.A. program. KCAI hosts “Current Perspectives,” a free public lecture series; free exhibitions at the H&R Block Artspace gallery; and evening, weekend and
summer classes in art, design, multimedia studies and desktop publishing for children, youth and adults. Founded in 1885, KCAI is Kansas City’s oldest arts organization. For more information, visit KCAI on the Web at www.kcai.edu.
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