I was recently introduced to the work of Sheila Hicks when I visited her solo show at the Textile Museum of Canada. The show, titled Material Voices, continues until February 5, 2017.
Born in Nebraska in 1934, Hicks has lived in France since 1964. She has travelled widely, and finds inspiration in the landscape wherever she goes. Her work "pivots around the interconnected themes of memory, place and space." Into her 80's, she continues to make small studies of woven fibre called minimes (one is shown below), and monumental installations for public and private spaces.
bamboo, wool, cotton, linen, silk
Hicks studied at the Yale University School of Art, where she began to question the traditional boundaries between media. There she met Anni Albers, one of the best-known textile artists of the twentieth century. Also at Yale, Hicks encountered the German painter Josef Albers, the colour theorist and author of the celebrated 1963 book, The Interaction of Color.
|Predestined Color Wave II and I, 2015|
Soon, Hicks' language in fibre diversified from weaving to the use of three-dimensional forms, including bales, batons, cords and stacks. Some of her work, like Predestined Color Wave I and II shown above, is simply constructed by wrapping linen thread around a frame, covering front and back.
|Perpetual Migration, 2014-15|
bamboo, acrylic fibre, slate, coins, cotton, wool, metal wire, linen
Perpetual Migration, shown above, is only a fragment of the original work, The Treaty of Chromatic Zones, which measured 14 x 40 feet and was showcased at the 2015 Art Basel Unlimited Fair. Throughout her career, Hicks has repurposed materials and elements from existing installations to create new objects.
Writes the curator,
"Material Voices celebrates the past and present of an artist who has created a lasting role for fiber in postwar art while also influencing a generation of artists working across many media. ... [This] exhibition reflects Hick's understanding of her own artistic practice not as a trajectory, but rather as an ongoing exploration of material and form through innovation, appropriation and reinvention."