Friday, June 26, 2009

Who Is Sheila Hicks

Sheila Hicks is an internationally recognized artist. An American born textile designer she began her career
studying painting under the Bauhaus professor Josef Albers, but when a pre-Columbian textile course captured her attention, he took her home to meet his wife, Anni, a noted weaver. At his suggestion, she applied for a Fulbright scholarship to South America and spent the first few years of her weaving life journeying through Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru and Chile, and back north to Mexico.It was in Chile where she began her passion for working with fibers. In India she worked in a handloom factory producing commercial textiles.

Pages from her wall diary, sketches, inspirations and ideas

Sheila has lived in Mexico, Chile, India and Morrocco

Guerrero Mexico 1964

I first heard of Sheila Hicks during the Spring of 1971. She and many other international fiber artists had been invited to exhibit their off the wall/two and three dimensional fiber sculptures at several venues in the Los Angeles area: UCLA, Pasadena Art Museum (now the Norton Simon Museum), Cal Tech. There were opportunities to hear these artists speak about their work, their inspirations and their individual journeys breaking the two dimensional barriers of traditional weaving and fiber art. Some of the represented artists were Sheila Hicks (an American living and working in Paris), Jagoda Buic (from Dabrovnik) , Magdalena Abakanowicz , and a list of Fiber Stars from Europe and America were in town for this event. To a young fiber artist like myself at the time this was monumental. I was so inspired by this artists work, her independence and her creativity. I admired the spirit in which she devoted her energy to creating art and the various cultures she explored to gather ideas. When I first went to Paris that summer in 1971 I had hoped to visit her atelier where she worked. This was not possible as she was in another city while I was in Paris. That summer however we were able to view many extraordinary fiber sculptures at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. I remember being thrilled and entranced by the enormity of these sculptures and the idea of transforming traditional weaving techniques into sculptural 3-demensional forms. It was the beginning of a new path for me throughout my graduate career. Thoughout the years I have followed her creative endeavors. She continues to live an amazing, productive and creative life.

Sheila Hicks is one of the innovators who revolutionized fiber art in the 1960s.

Sheila was part of the textile revolution of that decade. She, along with other fiber artists, is really responsible for taking textiles off the wall and giving them a sculptural dimension.

Born in Hastings, Nebraska, 1934, Ms. Hicks is Internationally known for her role in the so-called fiber revolution of the Sixties that sought to transform textiles into a three dimensional contender as an art form. She studied painting at Yale from 1954-59, immersing herself in Josef Albers’s color courses and absorbing a passion for the ordered relationship of hues. (She taught his approach, in Spanish, at the Universidad Católica in Santiago, Chile, during a Fulbright year there.) Before taking up permanent residence in Paris in 1964. she studied weaving techniques in Chile and Mexico.

Working with her assistants in her Atelier in the Latin Quarter of Paris.

"I found my voice and my footing in my small work. It enabled me to build bridges between art, design, architecture, and decorative arts." - Sheila Hicks

We refer to woven materials as textiles, although many textiles are not woven. From the Latin word textilis and the French word texere, both meaning "to weave", textiles may actually be constructed by any number of methods including knitting, knotting, bonding, tufting and felting. -Sheila Hicks from Weaving as a Metaphor

Rue des Marronniers, Made in Paris, 1973Alpaca and Silk, Collection of Monique Levi-StraussSheila Hicks Biography

Born July 24, Hastings, Nebraska
1957 - 1958

Fulbright Scholarship to Chile
1954 - 1959

Yale University: Painting, B.F.A. 1957; M.F.A. 1959
1959 - 1960

Fribourg Grant to France
1960 - 1964

Lives in Mexico: paints, weaves, photographs
1964 - pres

Lives in France

Selected permanent collections and exhibition venues:Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York (Wall Hangings); Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York; Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois (solo exhibition); Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania; Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, the Netherlands; the Israel Museum, Jerusalem (solo exhibition); Museums of Modern Art, Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan; Lausanne, Switzerland (International Biennials of Tapestry); Museo Nacional de Historia Natural, Santiago, Chile (solo exhibition).

"I’ve come to think of myself over the years as on a quest – not a religious quest or a spiritual quest, but a search for meaning in my life. Oscar Wilde said the meaning of life is in art. Maybe what has happened is I have found the meaning of my life – in art. "
-Sheila Hicks


candi said...

Very interesting posy, Barb.
I've never heard of Sheila Hicks before, thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting woman. Confusing article. Does she live in Mexico, or in Paris?

Thanks! Donna in SF

barb cabot said...

Hi Donna, I can see where it is not clear in the article. She lives in Paris and I believe also in NYC. She has a studio/atelier in Paris but has lived in Mexico at one time. I believe that was early in her career.

sheila said...


Jocelyn Valenzuela

Rane Anderson said...

Hey Barbara! My mom told me about your blog. Thought I'd stop by and say HELLO. Very cool site you've got going here. I've recently started my own blogs, too.

If you want to write a guest blog on The Lit Express sometime, I'd really love it. I'm just getting that site going and trying to figure out what type of content to include on the site. It seems like you've got all this blogging stuff really figured out. Let me know if you've got any ideas for my sites.

Hope all is well.
Rane :-)

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