Sheila Hicks (born in Hastings, Nebraska, 1934) is an American artist. She lives and works in Paris, France. Prior to that, she lived and worked in Guerrero, Mexico (1959–63). She is known for her innovative and experimental weavings and sculptural textile art that incorporate distinctive colors, natural materials, and personal narratives.
Early life and education
Sheila Hicks received BFA ('57) and MFA ('59) degrees in painting from the Yale School of Art. She was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to Chile (1957–58), photographed archaeological sites in the Andes and travelled to the volcanic region of Villarrica, the island of Chiloé, and Tierra del Fuego, which continues to influence her work. From 1959 to 1964 she resided and worked in Mexico. Since 1964, Hicks lives and works in Paris, France.
While at Yale School of Art in Connecticut (1954-1959), she studied with Josef Albers, Rico Lebrun, Bernard Chaet, George Kubler, George Heard Hamilton, Vincent Scully, Jose de Riviera, Herbert Mather, Norman Ives, and Gabor Peterdi. Her thesis on pre-Incaic textiles was supervised by archaeologist Junius Bird of the American Museum of Natural History in New York and artist Anni Albers.
In 1959, Henri Peyre, the Sterling Professor of French Emeritus at Yale University, selected Hicks for a grant to study in France (1959–60), which enabled her to meet the pre-Columbian textile scholar and ethnologist Raoul D'Harcourt.
Subsequently, Hicks moved to Taxco el Viejo, Mexico where she began weaving, painting, and teaching at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) at the invitation of Mathias Goeritz who also introduced to the architects Luis Barragán and Ricardo Legorreta Vilchis.
Hicks' art ranges from the minuscule to the monumental. Her materials vary as much as the size and shape of her work. Having begun her career as a painter, she has remained close to color, using it as a language she builds, weaves and wraps to create her pieces.
She incorporates various materials into her "minimes", miniature weavings made on a wooden loom. These include transparent noodles, pieces of slate, razor clam shells, shirt collars, collected sample skeins of embroidery threads, rubber bands, shoelaces, and Carmelite-darned socks. Her temporary installations have incorporated thousands of hospital "girdles" – birth bands for newborns – baby shirts, blue nurses' blouses and khaki army shirts, as well as the wool sheets darned by Carmelite nuns.
Hicks's work is characterised by her direct examination of indigenous weaving practices in the countries of their origin. This has led her travel through five continents, studying the local culture in Mexico, France, Morocco, India, Chile, Sweden, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Japan and South Africa, developing relationships with designers, artisans, industrialists, architects, politicians and cultural leaders.
In 2007, the publication Sheila Hicks: Weaving as Metaphor, designed by Irma Boom to accompany the exhibition of the same name at Bard Graduate Center, was named "Most Beautiful Book in the World" at the Leipzig Book Fair.
In 2010 a retrospective of Hicks' 50-year career originated at the Addison Gallery in Andover, Mass. with additional venues at the ICA in Philadelphia, and at The Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina. This included both miniature works (her "minimes") and large scale sculpture.
Hicks' work can be found in private and public collections, including: 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; Target Headquarters, Minneapolis, MN, 2003; SD26 Restaurant, NY, 2009; Ford Foundation (reconstructed), NY, 2013–14; Foundation Louis Vuitton, Boulogne, France, 2014–15.
In 2013, the 18-foot-high Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column was included in the Whitney Biennal.
In 2018, February 7-April 30, Hicks had a solo exhibition Life Lines at the Centre Pompidou which included more than 100 works.
- 1958: "Tejidos", National Museum of Natural History, Santiago, Chile
- 1958: "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
- 1963-66: "Sheila Hicks", Knoll International, Nuremberg, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Cologne, Berlin, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Germany; Basel, Switzerland
- 1965: "Woven Forms and Sculpture: Sheila Hicks", Interiors International (Knoll), London, England
- 1965: "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
- 1979: "Inhabited", American Center, Paris, France
- 1980: "Free Fall", Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel
- 1980: "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
- 1992: "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
- 2006: "Sheila Hicks: Weaving as Metaphor", Bard Graduate Center, New York, NY
- 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
- 2010: "Sheila Hicks: 50 Years", Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts. Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia, PA, and Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC
- 2010: 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
- 2011: "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
- 2014: "Sheila Hicks: Unknown Data", Galerie Frank Elbaz, Paris
- 2015: "Sheila Hicks: Foray into Chromatic Zones", Hayward Gallery, London
- 2016: "Si j'étais de laine, vous m'accepteriez?" Galerie Frank Elbaz, Paris
- 2016: "Sheila Hicks: Material Voices", Joslyn Art Museum Omaha, Nebraska
- 2016: "Sheila Hicks, Hilos libres. El textil y sus raíces prehispánicas, 1954-2017" (Free thread. The textile and its prehispanic roots, 1954-2017), Museo Amparo, Puebla, México
- 2017: Galleria Massimo Minini, Brescia, Italy
- 2017: "Stones of Peace", Alison Jacques Gallery, London
- 2017: "Hop, Skip, Jump, and Fly: Escape From Gravity", High Line, New York City
- 2018: "Sheila Hicks: Lignes de Vie", Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
- 2018: Sheila Hicks: Migador, Magasin III Museum & Foundation for Contemporary Art, Jaffa, Israel
- 2018: Panta Rhei, Sheila Hicks, Judit Reigl, Galerie Nächst St. Stephan, Wein, Austria
Awards and recognition
- 1957–58: Fulbright Program, grant to paint in Chile
- 1959–60: Fribourg grant to paint in France
- 1975: American Institute of Architects, Medal
- 1980: Middlebury College, H.W. Janson Distinguished Visiting Professor of Art
- 1983: American Craft Council (New York, NY), Fellow
- 1984: Rhode Island School of Design (Providence, RI), Honorary Doctorate
- 1985: French Academy of Architecture (Paris, France), Silver Medal of Fine Arts
- 1987: Ministry of Culture's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Paris, France), Chevalier
- 1993: Ministry of Culture's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Paris, France), Officier
- 1997: American Craft Council, Gold Medal
- 2007: Textile Museum (Washington, D.C.), 25 Year Honoree
- 2010: Smithsonian Institution's Archives of American Art, Lifetime Achievement Award
- 2014: École des Beaux-Arts (Paris, France) Honorary Doctorate
- Addison Gallery of American Art (Andover, MA)
- Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris, France)
- Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland, OH)
- Denver Art Museum (Denver, CO)
- Industriet Museum (Oslo, Norway)
- Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton, NJ)
- Kunsthalle Bielefeld (Germany)
- Kunstmuseum (Oldenburg, Germany)
- Manufacture des Gobelins (Paris, France)
- Milwaukee Art Museum (Milwaukee, WI)
- Minneapolis Institute of Art (Minneapolis, MN)
- Mint Museum (Charlotte, NC)
- Musée de la Mode et du Textile (Paris, France)
- Musée de la Tapisserie (Angers, France)
- Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Paris, France)
- Musée des Beaux Arts (Brest, France)
- Musée des Beaux Arts (Pau, France)
- Museo de Bellas Artes (Santiago, Chile)
- Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (Mexico City, Mexico)
- Museum of Art and Design (New York, NY)
- Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague (Prague, Czech Republic)
- Museum of Design, Zürich (Zurich, Switzerland)
- Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Boston, MA)
- Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY)
- Museum of Nebraska Art (Kearney, NE)
- National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC)
- National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto (Kyoto, Japan)
- National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (Tokyo, Japan)
- North Dakota Museum of Art (Grand Forks, ND)
- Okawa Museum of Art (Kiryu, Japan)
- Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia, PA)
- Renwick Gallery (Washington, DC)
- Saint Louis Art Museum (St. Louis, MO)
- Smart Museum of Art (Chicago, IL)
- Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, D.C.)
- Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (New York, NY)
- Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
- Tate Museum (London, England)
- The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)
- The National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC)
- Victoria and Albert Museum (London, UK)
- Wadsworth Atheneum (Hartford, CT)
- Yale Art Gallery (New Haven, CT)
- Smee, Sebastian (November 14, 2010). "Sheila Hicks, weaving her own fabric of modernism". The Boston Globe. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
- "Sheila Hicks: Weaving as Metaphor". The Statement. Wilsonart International. Archived from the original on September 29, 2011. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
- Faxon, Susan C.; Simon, Joan; Chadwick, Whitney (2010). Sheila Hicks: 50 Years. Yale University Press for Addison Gallery of American Art. ISBN 978-0-300-12164-3.
- Hicks, Sheila (April 2, 2014). "SHEILA HICKS with Danielle Mysliwiec". The Brooklyn Rail (Interview). Interviewed by Mysliwiec, Danielle. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
- Camhi, Leslie (March 31, 2011). "A Career Woven From Life". The New York Times. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
- "Sheila Hicks: Weaving as Metaphor (past exhibition)". Bard Graduate Center. Retrieved March 4, 2018.
- Rawsthorn, Alice (March 18, 2007). "Reinventing the look (even smell) of a book". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 4, 2018.
- "Traveling Exhibitions | Sheila Hicks: 50 Years". Addison Gallery of American Art. Phillips Academy. Archived from the original on September 7, 2011. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
- "Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column". Whitney Museum of American Art. Archived from the original on April 16, 2017. Retrieved June 26, 2017.
- "Works | SHEILA HICKS: STONES OF PEACE". Alison Jacques Gallery. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
- "La Biennale di Venezia - Artists". www.LaBiennale.org. Archived from the original on June 29, 2017. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
- Hicks, Sheila (February 5, 2018). "Sheila Hicks: an American with wool in Paris". The Art Newspaper (Interview). Interviewed by Sansom, Anna. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
- Sheets, Hilarie M. (May 3, 2017). "The Artist Sheila Hicks Will Spin Her Threads on the High Line". The New York Times. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
- "Sheila Hicks: Lignes de Vie". Centre Pompidou (in French). Retrieved March 4, 2018.
- Lévi-Strauss, Monique (1973). Horay, Pierre; Langlois, Suzy (eds.). Sheila Hicks (in French). Paris. ISBN 2-7058-0009-3.
- Danto, Arthur Coleman; Simon, Joan (2006). Stritzler-Levine, Nina (ed.). Sheila Hicks weaving as metaphor. Yale University Press for The Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture. ISBN 978-0-300-11685-4.
- Carlano, Annie (2012). One Work: Sheila Hicks at the Mint. Charlotte, North Carolina: Yale University Press for The Mint Museum. ISBN 978-0-300-19085-4.
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