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Activities

These activities focus on works of art in the Whitney’s collection and special exhibitions. Through discussion, research, art making, and writing activities, we hope to encourage close looking, foster conversation between students, and connect artwork to classroom learning. Learn about our four artist-centered themes.

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FOLLOW THE THREAD

Experiment with a piece of thread and draw it

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?

Anne Byrd. Transcript of interview with Sheila Hicks. Biennial 2014 audio guide, January 2014.

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Sheila Hicks, Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column, 2013-14. Linen, cotton, bamboo, silk, and strand of recycled fiber. 210 × 48 × 48 in. (533.4 × 121.9 × 121.9 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York