Revolutionizing Fiber Sculpture
Susan Ferrari Rowley ’76 MST (Visual Arts-All Grades), ’81 MFA (Fine and Applied Arts) has spent her professional life in pursuit of excellence and developing an impressive body of work that shows the evolution of her personal artistic language. Ferrari Rowley began as a sculptor and found fabric to be her medium of choice, combined with contemporary materials that she manipulates in combination.
She is a pioneer in transcending boundaries and gaining acceptance of fabric/fiber as a sculptural medium, and has gained national and international recognition in both fiber and sculpture exhibitions.
“Because I was doing my sculptures with fabric, it was called ‘Fiber,’” Ferrari Rowley said of her early experimentation with fabric sculpture. “That was pre-revolution. I was part of that revolution to make fiber sculpture. All that craftsmanship at RIT had a big effect on me and I carried it right across the boundary line into it being called a sculpture.”
Her fiber sculpture and other work has been featured in more than 100 collections. A notable honor includes being featured in “Young Americans: Fiber, Plastic, Wood,” the American Crafts Council’s national selection of 50 artists to honor and watch. She was also recognized as the 2013 Visual Artist of the Year from the Arts and Cultural Council of Rochester. Many competitive exhibitions and one-person shows culminated in her inclusion in the 2018 Venice Biennial of Architecture, where she was one of 30 international sculptors chosen to exhibit in the prestigious exhibition. She was also invited to design a new sculpture for the 2020 Venice Biennale. RIT’s University Gallery hosted her large-scale, sculptural installations for a site-specific exhibition in early 2020.
In addition to her work as a practicing sculptor, Ferrari Rowley is an accomplished educator. She taught at both RIT and Monroe Community College, where she holds the title of associate professor emeritus. In 2011, she was the recipient of the New York State Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Arts.