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Textile, Papillon

This is a Textile. It was designed by Sheila Hicks. It is dated 1997–2004 and we acquired it in 2006. Its medium is synthetic fiber, color transfer paper and its technique is woven and stitched synthetic fiber and color transfer paper. It is a part of the Textiles department.

Sheila Hicks is one of the most important textile artists of the 20th century. Papillon (1997-2004), measuring only 10 13/16” x 7 1/16” is one of almost 1,000 works included in her series Miniatures – an enduring project that began over 50 years ago. Each was created on a small loom constructed from painter’s stretcher bars, which made a practical and portable companion throughout her travels in India, Mexico, France, Morocco and Saudi Arabia.
Aptly named Papillon, which translates to “butterfly” in French, the textile is reminiscent of delicate butterfly wings. Hicks uses bookbinder’s paste to stiffen tripled floating warps of earthy colors like brown, orange and yellow. Thin sheets of dye transfer paper in chartreuse and ochre hues are artfully crushed and woven between the warps. They are secured in place with small running stitches, revealing the textile’s construction. Inspired by perhaps one of the most beautiful and elusive creatures in the natural world ­– the ephemeral butterfly – Hicks endeavors to explore both the capabilities and characteristics of materials, color, form and technique.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled Papillon.

This object was donated by Unknown. It is credited Gift of Anonymous Donor.

Its dimensions are

Warp x Weft: 27.5 x 18 cm (10 13/16 x 7 1/16 in.)

Cite this object as

Textile, Papillon; Designed by Sheila Hicks (American, b. 1934); synthetic fiber, color transfer paper; Warp x Weft: 27.5 x 18 cm (10 13/16 x 7 1/16 in.); Gift of Anonymous Donor; 2006-14-8

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Looking Forward/ Looking Back: Recent Acquisitions in 20th- and 21st-Century Design.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Textile, Papillon |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=9 June 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>