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Your tax dollars: State Dept. spent $185,000 to decorate embassy with 98 balls of yarn

August 9, 2016

From my latest blog post for the Independent Women’s Forum:


'Lares and Penates' (detail) by Sheila Hicks / Altoon Sultan

Hicks’s “Lares and Penates”: Each one of those balls cost $1,888


The Washington Free Beacon reports:

“The State Department doled out six figures for one piece of art made out of balls of thread, to be displayed in an embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan….

“The State Department spent $185,000 for ‘Lares and Penates,’ a 9.5 foot by 9.5 foot fiber installation by Sheila Hicks, according to a government contract signed in April.

“The piece is made up of 98 balls of thread.”

In case you’re having a hard time wrapping your head around the idea that “98 balls of thread” can either: 1) be worth $185,000; or 2) be right up there with the Mona Lisa–well, that shows how much you know about art, dumbo!

Here’s the skinny on the work itself:

“’Rather than a sense of constriction, the various sized pieces are like precious small gifts, hiding happy mysteries,’ writes the art blog ‘Studio and Garden.’ ‘Lares and Penates are Roman deities who protected the household. We might see these small pieces as votive objects, made with a kind of prayerful attention in the repetitive motions of wrapping.’”

And here’s the skinny on the artist:

“Hicks is a contemporary fiber artist from Hastings, Nebraska. She now splits time between Paris and New York. Hicks has work displayed in museums all over the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Seoul Art Center in Korea.

“’Pioneering fiber artist Sheila Hicks blurs the boundary between painting and sculpture with her vibrant woven and textile works, which she creates in many shapes and sizes, from wall mountings that mimic the format of painting to suspended pieces that hang from ceiling to floor like textured columns,’ writes Artsy, an online database of contemporary art.”

The New York Post doesn’t know much about art or “blurring the boundaries between painting and sculpture,” either. It calls Hicks’ fiber-art piece “a giant cat toy.”

Read the whole thing here.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

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