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Textile, Phare de Stiff

This is a Textile. It was designed by Sheila Hicks. It is dated 1978 and we acquired it in 2006. Its medium is silk, cotton and its technique is plain weave with discontinuous wefts (slit tapestry, eccentric weave). It is a part of the Textiles department.

Sheila Hicks is one of the most important living textiles artists today. Phare de Stiff (1978) is a miniature created on the loom Hicks uses when she travels. It is a vignette of an extraordinary life and a practice that is still going strong.
Hicks attended the School of Art and Architecture at Yale University, where she trained under Josef Albers. She was a painting major and Albers’s top student. While at Yale, she became enamored with pre-Columbian art and textiles and began a research project that led her to Mexico where she learned to weave from local weavers. Hicks continued to live and work in many other countries, including Chile, Peru, India, Thailand, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, France, and the United States.
In discussing her weaving and creative process in 1990, Hicks describes how, after understanding the various weaving structures, her tendency is to “loosen up and create variations. Having comprehended the basic principles of interlacing threads, I departed from the established set of ideas, patterns, and themes (as in music) and continue to try to suggest new shapes, forms, contours and attitudes. The techniques I have used most are interlacing (basic weaving and its variations), massing and wrapping threads by binding them together, darning and drawing, painting and photography. I draw an idea, color it, photograph it, re work it, try different materials, try different scales, and find the appropriate technology to actually make the work as I envision it. New ideas occur in the process.”
Phare de Stiff is one of a proposed acquisition of 20 miniatures that together cover nearly 50 years of Hicks’s career. All were created on the same traveling loom and each represents not only a specific period and place, but a specific idea and technique, ranging from color and thread behavior to transparency and structure. This proposed acquisition would provide a clear representation of her extraordinary creative process and would finally give the breadth of her work the serious attention it merits.

It is credited Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund.

Its dimensions are

Warp x Weft: 24 x 14 cm (9 7/16 x 5 1/2 in.)

Cite this object as

Textile, Phare de Stiff; Designed by Sheila Hicks (American, b. 1934); France; silk, cotton; Warp x Weft: 24 x 14 cm (9 7/16 x 5 1/2 in.); Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund; 2006-13-1

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Textile, Phare de Stiff |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=26 October 2021 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>