University Museums

Title: Celebration Coat #41
Name: Coat
Date: 2000
Medium: Wool and metallic yarns
Dimensions: 63 x 50 in. (160 x 127 cm)
Marks: Fabric ribbons attached to inside of coat "In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the University Museums, Sepetember 19, 2000-July, 2000. Created by Robert Hillestad, Celebration Coat # 41)
Classification: Textiles and Apparel
Credit Line: Gift of Jewell and Beverly Crabtree and Cornelia and William Buck. In the permanent collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Object Number: UM2000.68abc
More Information
This coat was commissioned by University Museum in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the museums opening on September 19, 1975. The full length coat and collar is knitted with vibrant colored wool in red, yellow. The ends of each wool strand hang loose, producing an overall effect of shaggy coat. There is a knotted rope adornment and a rope with fiber berries attached to fabric cording. One type of fiber berries is made by manipulating metallic fabric into little balls and the other type is created by first knitting little balls, stuffing them with yard, felting them and finally painting them with dyes.

Robert Hillestad, emeritus professor of clothing, textiles, and design at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, is a studio artist and design educator. He works with fiber and fabric to create wall pieces and sculpture for commercial and residential interiors, garments, accessories, and one-of-a-kind designs for individuals and families to celebrate special occasions. His work has been shown in more than 150 juried and invitational shows in the United States and abroad and is included in many corporate, private and museum collections.

Much of Hillestad’s inspiration comes from nature—the plumage of birds, the mystery of geodes, the grace of fish. “I have long regarded working with textiles as a celebration unto itself,” says Hillestad. “Some of my most joyful moments are embedded in the pieces I create.” Hillestad has described his intuitive construction process in this way: “The medium of textiles and I become partners. Sometimes I take the lead by providing direction for what will happen next. At other times, characteristics of the materials and techniques guide me along. As partners, we form a symbiotic relationship. The pace of our interaction starts out slowly as each responds to the other. As we work together, rhythms develop, patterns emerge and art forms evolve. It is an exhilarating process which I refer to as choreography in fiber, the dance of textiles.”

The University of Nebraska has a Gallery named for him: "The Robert Hillestad Textiles Gallery" on the east campus in Lincoln, where it is on the second floor of the Home Economics Building as part of the Department of Textiles, Clothing and Design in the UNL College of Educaton and Human Sciences.