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Behind the Design | The Thread of the Story: The Dorothy Liebes Papers
How can an archive draw a map through a nearly forgotten designer’s four-decade long career? How can an 8 x 10 inch fabric swatch embody a design era, from material choices to color palette? What role can invoices and order books play in filling in key gaps and bringing that era to life?

Designer Dorothy Liebes (1897–1972) has been called “the greatest modern weaver” and “the mother of the 20th century palette,” yet her outsized and enduring contributions to American modern design remain largely unknown. Join us to celebrate the recently-completed digitization of the Dorothy Liebes Papers at Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, and explore some of the ways they illuminate Cooper Hewitt’s collections.

When Liebes died in 1972 and the contents of her studio were dispersed, museums across the country received gifts of the sample weavings she called “Idea Fabrics.” However, they arrived with very little information about the key role these samples played in Liebes’s experimental studio practice and wide-ranging professional career. Her extensive archive —comprising 25 boxes of correspondence, business documents, press clippings, scrapbooks, photographs, and textile samples —was bequeathed to the Archives of American Art after her death. It reveals a vast network of collaborators across a swath of industries, from architecture and industrial design to fashion and film.

This free program will feature a lecture followed by an audience Q&A hosted through Zoom, with the option to dial in as well. Details will be emailed to you upon registration. This program includes closed captioning. For general questions or if we can provide additional accessibility services or accommodations to support your participation in this program, please email us at moorep@si.edu or let us know when registering

Sep 14, 2021 12:30 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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