In celebration of Women’s History Month, March Object of the Day posts highlight women designers in the collection.
Cour de Rohan, which bears the name of Sheila Hicks’s home in Paris, is an example of the artist’s “macro-embroidery” process, a scaled-up version of the embroidery stitch known as point de couchage or point lancé et couché, employed in the famous Bayeux Embroidery of Normandy. Hicks has stretched and assembled multiple linen yarns in varying lengths and has hand-sewn them after alternately twisting in “S” or “Z” directions. The only tool she employed was a half-moon rounded needle. The natural linen woven base cloth was stretched in tension and the skeins, or coils, of bleached linen were anchored onto it by sewing them with strong linen thread, holding and stabilizing the volume, creating a bas-relief effect.
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.
Matilda McQuaid is the Deputy Director of Curatorial and Head of Textiles at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.