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Sheila Hicks

1934 | Hastings, United States
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American Textile Artist.

A student at Yale in the 1950s, Sheila Hicks took courses with the Bauhaus master, Josef Albers, from whom she gained knowledge of rigorous work with materials, combined with a keen sense of color. Her encounters with textile artist Anni Albers and professor of the History of Hispanic-American Art George Kubler, awakened her interest in textile arts. A trip to South America from 1957-1959 helped her discover different weaving techniques. From there, she created her first pieces on a small portable loom that she had built herself. Varying her patterns and materials at will, she wove miniatures of incredible depth and richness. These were displayed in 2006 in an exhibition entitled Weaving as Metaphor. Returning to New York in 1959, she defended her thesis on pre-Columbian textiles, before beginning a teaching position at the University of Mexico, where she taught color and design.

Meanwhile, she collaborated with architects Luis Barragán and Felix Candela, who opened her to the prospect of three-dimensional work. Most notably, she created Prayer Rug (1964), a mural made of fibers, created using a stun gun, combining traditional knowledge with industrial techniques. After teaching a seminar on textile arts at the Academy of Bath, Hicks opened the atelier des Grands-Augustins in Paris in 1964. While consulting for textile manufacturers in India and Morocco, she sought to give her creations a more sculptural dimension (Sejjada, 1971). In the 1980s, she created pieces from fabrics filled with history, like hospital sheets or soldiers’ uniforms. For example, Back From the Front (1979) is an “endless column” formed by the accumulation of uniforms of Israeli soldiers. With strong conceptual rigor and a freedom of style, Hicks contributes to the revolution in textile arts by building links between art and craft. From her Paris studio, the artist continues her exploration of the infinite structural possibilities of textile arts with her series Papillon (1997), or through the design in 2001 of a theatre curtain for the Cultural Center of Gunma Kiryu, in Japan.

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Sonia Recasens

Translated from French by Emily Freeman.

From the Dictionnaire universel des créatrices
© 2013 Des femmes – Antoinette Fouque
© Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions
Sheila Hicks — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Sheila Hicks, To Take Roots, 2012-2014, painting and flax, 94 x 94 cm, © Photo: Zarko Vijatovic, © Galerie Frank Elbaz, Paris, © ADAGP, Paris

Sheila Hicks — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Sheila Hicks, Cordes sauvages, 2014, creepers, various fibres, 260 x 90 cm, variable dimensions, © Photo: Zarko Vijatovic, © Galerie Frank Elbaz, Paris, © ADAGP, Paris

Sheila Hicks — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Sheila Hicks, Fleuve Fantôme/River Phantom, 2014, flax, 380 x 110 cm, variable dimensions, © Photo: Zarko Vijatovic, © Galerie Frank Elbaz, Paris, © ADAGP, Paris

Sheila Hicks — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Sheila Hicks, Trésor des nomades, 2014, multimedia, fibre and textile, balls, variable dimensions, © Photo: Zarko Vijatovic, © Galerie Frank Elbaz, Paris, © ADAGP, Paris

Sheila Hicks — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Sheila Hicks, Atterrissage, Landing, 2014, pigments, acrylic fibres, 480 x 430 x 260 cm, variable dimensions, © Photo: Zarko Vijatovic, © Galerie Frank Elbaz, Paris, © ADAGP, Paris

Sheila Hicks — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Sheila Hicks, Liane de Beauvais, 2010-2011, flax, pearl cotton, wool, silk, 430 x 400 cm, Palais de Compiègne, France, 2015, Courtesy Galerie Frank Elbaz, Paris, © Photo: Marc Poirier, © ADAGP, Paris

Sheila Hicks — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Sheila Hicks, The Treaty of Chromatic Zones, 2015, rice paper, bambou, pigmented acrylic fibre, flax, cotton, silk, alpaca, slate and ceramics, variable dimensions, © Photo: Raphael Fanelli, © Galerie Frank Elbaz, Paris, © ADAGP, Paris

Sheila Hicks — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Sheila Hicks, Installation view Baôli, 2014-2015, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France, Courtesy Galerie Frank Elbaz, Paris, © Photo: Aurélien Mole, © ADAGP, Paris

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