Follow the Thread
Sheila Hicks designed her site-specific textile work, Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column (2014) with the architecture of the Museum building in mind, considering the coffered, open design of the ceiling and the sense of solidity she found in the stone floor. By extending the cords from the ceiling to the floor, she hopes to activate viewers’ awareness of these architectural elements. She said: “I want my work to hit the floor in a very emphatic way so it hits the floor, spills, puddles, and looks as though it's alive. It's moving and has its own internal energy.”
a. Ask students to find a partner and experiment with a piece of thread about 12-18” long. Drop the thread onto a horizontal surface (eg the floor or a table top). Have students draw the shape of the thread and then repeat the process once or twice.
b. Ask students to do the drawings on vellum or other translucent paper such as tracing paper. Have student partners layer their drawings and staple them at the top. Ask students to share their drawings with the class. How did the thread respond to movement? Gravity? The surface students dropped it on?
c. As a follow up assignment at home, have students do same activity but with items that have personal significance to them—for example, a belt, lanyard, necklace, ribbon or twine from a gift, or rainbow loom elastic chains. Have students take photographs or make drawings of the results. What was the personal significance of the fibers that students chose? In what ways did these items respond to movement and gravity?