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Hicks graduated from New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois (1952), attended Syracuse University in New York (1952–54), Yale University School of Art and Architecture (1954-1959), where she gained a BFA in painting (1957) and MFA in painting (1959) studying with Josef Albers, Rico Lebrun, and Bernard Chaet. Albers introduced Hicks to his wife, Anni Albers, the textile pioneer who became an important influence. Hicks also studied photography with Herbert Matter. Her thesis was on pre-Incaic textiles. Hicks was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study and paint in Chile (1957–58). She used this to visit and photograph archeological sites in Peru and Bolivia. Inspired by pre-Columbian textiles she began making the 2- and 3-dimensional woven works which she is known for today.
She relocated to Paris, France, in 1964 which became her home.
A retrospective exhibition of Hicks' 50-year career took place in 2010 which showcased Hicks' woven artworks. This included a large number of miniature pieces, which Hicks calls "minimes" and has made throughout the 50 years. She also makes larger works, wall hangings and sculptures. Her pieces are often vibrantly colored. The Boston Globe described the impression as "ravishing" and "reminding us less of the work of Bauhaus artists and designers than of contemporary artists like Tara Donovan and Lynda Benglis, poets of spilling forms, impermanent materials, and (in Benglis’s case) bright, artificial colors."
1958 Tejidos, National Museum of Natural History, Santiago, Chile; pinturas de s.a.w. hicks—fotografias de Sergio larrain, Museo de Bellas Artes, Santiago, Chile
1961 Tejidos—Sheila Hicks, Galeria Antonio Souza, Mexico, D.F.
1963 The Textiles of Sheila Hicks, Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, USA Sheila Hicks, Knoll International, Nuremberg, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Cologne, Berlin, Frankfurt & Stuttgart, Germany; Basel, Switzerland; London, UK
1965 Woven Forms and Sculpture: Sheila Hicks, Interiors International (Knoll), London, England Gewebte Formen, Landesmuseum, Oldenburg, Germany
1970 Fete du Fil, Institut Franco-Americain de Rennes, France; Forme in Faden, Buchholz Gallery, Munich, Germany; American Library, Brussels, Belgium
1971 Formes de Fil, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Brest, France
1972 Fils Dansants, Tapis aux Murs de Sheila Hicks, American Cultural Center, Dakar, Senegal; Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire; American Center, Milan, Italy
1974 Sheila Hicks, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
1976 Tapisserie Mise en Liberte; Ancient Peruvian Textiles and the Work of Sheila Hicks, Maison de la Culture, Rennes, France
1977 Muzeja savremene umetnosti, Belgrade; Museum of Art, Skopje, Macedonia; Museum of Contemporary Art, Dubrovnic, Yugoslavia; Biblioteca Americana, Bucharest, Romania
1978 Tons and Masses, Sheila Hicks, Lunds Konsthall, Lund, Sweden
1979 Suite Ouessantine, Musée de Beaux-Arts, Brest, France Inhabited, American Center, Paris, France
1980 Free Fall, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel; Small Jump, American Cultural Centre, Tel Aviv, Israel
1981 Carte Blanche, Musée des Beaux Arts, Rennes, France
1987 Textile, Texture, Texte, Musée de Beaux Arts, Pau, France
1991 Soft Logic, Seoul Arts Center, Seoul, Korea; Centre Culturel Francais, Seoul, Korea
1992 Cultural Exchange, Walker’s Point Center of the Arts, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Sheila Hicks v Prague, Umeleckoprumyslove Muzeum, Prague, Czechoslovakia
1993 Small Works, Saka Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
1994 Textile Magiker: Sheila Hicks-Junichi Arai, Textile Museet, Boras, Sweden
1996 Art of Sheila Hicks, Museum of Nebraska Art, Kearney, Nebraska
1997 Sheila Hicks: The Making of a Doncho, Municipal Cultural Center Gallery, Kiryu, Gunma, Japan
1999 Sheila Hicks: Seeds to the Wind, Contemporary Art Center of Virginia, Virginia Beach, Virginia
2007 Entrelacs de Sheila Hicks. Textiles et vanneries d’Afrique et d’Océanie de la collection Ghysels, Passage de Retz, Paris France
2008 Sheila Hicks Minimes: Small Woven Works, Davis & Langdale Company, Inc. New York, NY
2010 Sheila Hicks: 50 Years, Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA, Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia, PA, and Mint Museum of Craft and Design, Charlotte, NC; Sheila Hicks: Hors norms, sculptures textiles, Passage de Retz, Paris, France
2011 Sheila Hicks - One Hundred Minimes, The Museum of Decorative Arts (UPM), Prague, The Czech Republic; Sheila Hicks - 100 Minimes, Boijmans van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
2012 Sheila Hicks, Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York
2013 Pêcher dans la Rivière, Alison Jacques Gallery, London, UK
2014 Sheila Hicks, Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York
Awards and recognition
Fulbright grant to paint in Chile, 1957–58;
Fribourg grant to paint in France, 1959–60;
Medal, American Institute of Architects, USA, 1975;
Janson Distinguished Visiting Professor of Art, Middlebury College,Vermont,1980;
Fellow, American Craft Council, New York, NY, 1983;
Honorary Doctorate, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI, 1984;
Silver Medal of Fine Arts, French Academy of Architecture, Paris, France 1985;
Chevalier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Ministry of Culture, Paris, France,1987;
Officier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Ministry of Culture, Paris, France, 1993;
Gold Medal, American Crafts Council, NY, 1997;
The Textile Museum, 25 Year Honoree, Washington, D.C., 2007;
Smithsonian Archives of American Art, Lifetime Achievement Award, 2010;
Silver Medal, Neocon, Chicago, Ill. 2013
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Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA; The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; The Tate, London; The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH; Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, NY; Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO; Industriet Museum, Oslo, Norway; Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ; Kustgewerbemuseum, Zurich, Switzerland; Kunstmuseum, Oldenburg, Germany; Manufacture des Gobelins, Paris, France; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI; Minneapolis Institute of Art, MN; The Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC; Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, France; Musée des Beaux Arts, Brest, France; Musée des Beaux Arts, Pau, France; Musée de la Mode et du Textile, Paris, France; Musée de la Tapisserie, Angers, France; Museo de Bellas Artes, Santiago, Chile; Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, Mexico; Museum of Art and Design, New York, NY; Museum of Decorative Arts, Prague, Czech Republic; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan; The Museum of Nebraska Art, Kearney, NE; The North Dakota Museum of Art, Grand Forks, ND; Okawa Museum, Kiryu, Japan; Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA; The Renwick Gallery, Washington, D.C., MD; Saint Louis Art Museum, MO; The Smart Museum, Chicago, IL; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK; Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT; Yale Art Gallery, New Haven, CT; Bielefeld Museum, Germany.
Ford Foundation, NY, 1967; Georg Jensen Center for Advanced Design, NY; Air France Boeing 747 planes, 1969–74; TWA terminal at JFK Airport, NY, 1973; CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System), NY; Rochester Institute of Technology, NY; Banque Rothschild, Paris, France; Francis Bouygues, Paris, France; IBM, Paris, France, 1972; Kodak, Paris, France ; Fiat Tower, Paris, Franc; MGIC Investment Corporation, Milwaukee, WI; King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 1983 ; Kellogg’s, Michigan; Fuji City, Cultural Center, Japan, 1999; Institute of Advance Study, Princeton, NJ; SD26 Restaurant, NY, 2009; Ford Foundation (reconstructed), NY, 2013
- "Sheila Hicks", by Monique Lévi-Strauss, Pierre Horay, editeur, Paris, and Suzy Langlois, Art Mural, 1973. ISBN 2-7058-0009-3
- Faxon, Susan C., Joan Simon and Whitney Chadwick: "Sheila Hicks: 50 Years", Yale University Press/Addison Gallery of American Art, 2010, ISBN 978-0-300-12164-3.
- Danto, Arthur Coleman, Joan Simon, Nina Stritzler-Levine, and the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture: Sheila Hicks weaving as metaphor, Yale University Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0-300-11685-4.
- One Work: Sheila Hicks at the Mint, published by The Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina in association with Yale University Press, New Haven and London. 2012. ISBN 978-0-300-19085-4. Designed by Irma Boom, Amsterdam.
- Sebastian Smee (November 14, 2010). "Sheila Hicks, weaving her own fabric of modernism". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2014-03-01.
- Sheila Hicks Weaving as Metaphor, Arthur Danto, Joan Simon, Nina Stritzler-Levine, and the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture, Yale University Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0-300-11685-4
- "Sheila Hicks: 50 Years" exhibition site
- Sheila Hicks Homepage
- Wiki entry from the Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina
- Essay: "Sheila Hicks: Weaving as Metaphor"