The Grande Dame of Textile Art


Sheila Hicks can make art out of anything. Ribbon. Rubber bands, scraps of paper, twigs, strings, yarn. Bags full of mouse-gnawed linen thread. Nurses’ uniforms dyed rainbow colors. And she can make art any size: Small pieces she has called her “pot holders”; floor-length hangings; tapestries the size of a football field.

As a child in Nebraska her grandmothers, aunts and mother taught Hicks to knit and crochet, to embroider, sew and cut patterns — all the traditional crafts. But once she had studied art at Yale and weaving in South America, she soon blurred the lines that separate craft, art and design to shape fibers into rich, complicated creations.

While she says the small pieces are “a way of talking to myself and exploring, of entertaining myself,” her large pieces require the help of others. Hicks doesn’t sign her creations because she does not believe they are her work alone, but belong to everyone who helped make it, show it, or buy it. “I treat my clients, collaborators and employees the same way — as my partners in crime.”

 

Sheila Hicks' Rubber Bands
“Ringlets,”
made in Paris, 1993
interlock, reversible; rubber bands, paper clips
12 1/4 x 5 inches

Sheila Hicks' SJC 2012
Installation view
Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, NY, April 20 – June 2, 2012
Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York

Sheila Hicks
“Lianes de Beauvais,” 2011
Cotton wrapped with triple-dyed linen
Installation variable, 91 1/2 inches in height
© 2011 Sheila Hicks / Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York

Sheila Hicks
“Quills Rising,” 2011
Cotton, wool, quills
9.125 x 5.5 inches
23.2 x 14 cm
© 2011 Sheila Hicks / Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York

Sheila Hicks
“Oracle from Constantinople,” 2008-10
Linen
96 x 68 x 10 inches
243.8 x 172.7 x 25.4 cm
© 2010 Sheila Hicks / Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York

Sheila Hicks - Menhir
“Menhir – She,” 1998-2004
Linen, cotton, stainless steel
Approx. 62 x 36 x 36 inches
157.5 x 91.4 x 91.4 cm
© 2004 Sheila Hicks / Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York

Sheila Hicks
“Convergence (Vermala),” 2007
Linen
59 x 47.25 inches
150 x 120 cm
© 2007 Sheila Hicks / Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York

Sheila Hicks
“Sgur Lointain,” 2012
Linen and porcupine quills
9.25 x 5.5 inches
23.5 x 14 cm
© 2012 Sheila Hicks / Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York

Sheila Hicks
“Ptera II,” 2011
Cotton, silk, feathers
11.375 x 5.75 inches
29 x 14.5 cm
© 2011 Sheila Hicks / Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York

Sheila Hicks
“Tapis de Priere,” 1974
Wool
84 x 84 x 3.25 inches
213.4 x 213.4 x 8.3 cm
© 1974 Sheila Hicks / Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York

Sheila Hicks
“La Memoire,” 1972
Linen, silk, wool, synthetic fibers
120 x 176 inches
304.8 x 447 cm
Installation view
IBM Headquarters, La Defense, Paris, France, 1972
Artwork © 1972 Sheila Hicks / Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York

Sheila Hicks
Installation view
Sheila Hicks: 50 Years
Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, March 25 – August 7, 2011
Courtesy of the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York

Sheila Hicks Museum Show
Installation view
Intervention #18 Sheila Hicks – Cent Minimes
Museum Boijmans van Beunungen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands,
November 26, 2011 – March 4, 2012
Courtesy of the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York

Sheila Hicks in Yarn
Sheila Hicks in yarn

 

Sheila Hicks was born in Hastings, Nebraska in 1934. She studied for two years at Syracuse University and received her BFA and MFA degrees from Yale where she studied with Bauhaus artist Josef Albers. He introduced her to his wife, Anni Albers, who introduced her to weaving and other fiber arts. She won a Fulbright grant to study local art in South America where she traveled and learned fiber techniques in Venezuela, Columbia, Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Brazil and Mexico. Hicks married a beekeeper in Mexico and had a daughter. In 1963 she moved to France where she remarried and had a son. Her works are in the permanent collections of MOMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Centre Pompidou among other museums. She divides her time between Paris and New York.

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2 thoughts on “The Grande Dame of Textile Art

  1. Pingback: Cristine Yunyk: Project #4 Material Matters | STDO 1410 – A02 – Visual Language – Fall 2014

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