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Sheila Hicks

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Sheila Hicks
Sheila Hicks (1974)
Born1934 (1934)
Hastings, Nebraska, US
Known forTextile Art
Sheila Hicks
2019 exhibit at the Demisch Danant gallery, New York City

Sheila Hicks (born 1934)[1] is an American artist. She is known for her innovative and experimental weavings and sculptural textile art that incorporate distinctive colors, natural materials, and personal narratives.[2]

Since 1964, she has lived and worked in Paris, France.[3] Prior to that, she lived and worked in Guerrero, Mexico from 1959 to 1963.

Early life and education[edit]

Sheila Hicks was born in Hastings, Nebraska in 1934. She attended the Yale School of Art in Connecticut from 1954 to 1959, where she studied with Josef Albers,[4] Rico Lebrun, Bernard Chaet, George Kubler, George Heard Hamilton, Vincent Scully, Jose de Riviera, Herbert Matter, Norman Ives, and Gabor Peterdi. Her thesis on pre-Incaic textiles[1] was supervised by archaeologist Junius Bird of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. She received her BFA in 1957 .[5]

Born during the Great Depression in Hastings, Nebraska, Sheila Hicks spent much of her early life on the road, with her father seeking work where he found it. This “fantastic…migratory existence,” as she has described it, has come to define her six-decade career as an artist. Extensive experiences traveling, living, and working around the world continue to advance her exploration of textiles, the pliable and adaptable medium with which she is most closely associated. “Textile is a universal language. In all of the cultures of the world, textile is a crucial and essential component,” Hicks has said. Captivated by structure, form, and color, she has looked to weaving cultures across the globe to shape her work at varying scales, from small hand-woven works called Minimes and wall hangings; to sculptural fiber piles like The Evolving Tapestry: He/She (1967–68); to monumental corporate commissions, among them Enchantillon: Medallion (1967), a prototype for an installation at New York’s Ford Foundation. More recently, Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column (2014) demonstrates Hicks’s intense fascination with experimental materials: a whirling structure of multicolored synthetic fibers cascades from the ceiling, as if breaking through from the sky above.[6]


Sheila Hicks at the Musée Carnavalet, Paris, 2016. Photograph by Cristobal Zanartu

From 1959 to 1964 she resided and worked in Mexico; She moved to Taxco el Viejo, Mexico[7] 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. Since 1964, Hicks lives and works in Paris, France.[8]

She photographed extensively with her Rolleiflex.[9] Her subjects included the architecture of Felix Candela and artists active in Mexico. The Pérez Art Museum Miami holds the artwork Tapestry (1977), an example of her cultural textitle explorations.[10]

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,[11] was named "Most Beautiful Book in the World" at the Leipzig Book Fair.[12]

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.[1][13]

In 2013, the 18-foot-high Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column was included in the Whitney Biennal.[14]

In 2017 Hicks had a solo exhibition at Alison Jacques Gallery in London.[15] Hicks also participated in the 2017 Venice Biennale, Viva Arte Viva, May 13 – November 26, 2017.[16]

In 2018, February 7 – April 30, Hicks had a solo exhibition Life Lines at the Centre Pompidou which included more than 100 works.[17]

In 2021, June 4 – July 31, Hicks had a solo exhibition Music to My Eyes at Alison Jacques, London.[18] The same year Hicks' work was included in the exhibition Women in Abstraction at the Centre Pompidou.[19]

On April 21, 2022, Hicks had an interview with T: The New York Times Style Magazine, the title of the interview was "Artist Sheila Hicks: Observing Her Surroundings in the Courtyard".[20] She said the following about the way she works: "I move from idea to finished work acrobatically — it's as though I can feel the clouds shifting and the light coming and going. But because I frequently use fiber and textiles, I'm also quite specific in the way I work; unlike a video artist or a digital artist, I'm physically engaged in the creation of all my work. It's a manual practice but filtered through the optics of architecture, photography, form, material and color. A couple of years ago, I received an honorary doctorate from my school — I went to Yale in the '50s — and it made me very happy because it validated my choice to work and live as an artist. It meant that I could contribute something to the other fields, and so I'm seeking out what that might be, unlike many artists, who are seeking simply to express themselves."

On April 13, 2023, Alison Jacques announced plans to expand the gallery's presence in London with a new location at 22 Cork Street – the new space will open with a solo show of new work by Sheila Hicks.[21]

Personal life[edit]

In 1964, Hicks moved to Paris, France, with her daughter where she has lived ever since.[8] In 1965, she married fellow artist Enrique Zañartu with whom she had a son.[22] Since 1989, she is married to Melvin Bedrick.


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 as 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.[8][23]

The products of Hicks' free experimental practice, crossing what some may see as boundaries between tapestry, weaving, sculpture, fine art, craft, architecture, design and installation art, can now be found in internationally in art and design museums.[24]

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.[8]

Solo exhibitions[edit]

  • 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[11]
  • 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[13]
  • 2010: Sheila Hicks: Hors norms, sculptures textiles, Passage de Retz, Paris
  • 2011: "Sheila Hicks - One Hundred Minimes", The Museum of Decorative Arts (UPM), Prague
  • 2011: "Sheila Hicks - 100 Minimes", Boijmans van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam
  • 2012: "Sheila Hicks", Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York
  • 2013: "Pêcher dans la Rivière", Alison Jacques Gallery, London
  • 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[25]
  • 2018: "Sheila Hicks: Lignes de Vie", Centre Pompidou, Paris, France[26]
  • 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
  • 2019: Sheila Hicks 'Line by Line, Step by Step' April 29 – June 8, 2019, and June 10 – August 17, 2019 (Next Chapter), Demisch Danant, New York
  • 2019: "Sheila Hicks," May 11, 2019 - August 18, 2019, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, Texas.
  • 2019: Sheila Hicks, Reencuentro [Reencounter], August 9, 2019 – January 31, 2020, Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, Santiago, 2019.
  • 2021: "Music to My Eyes", June 4, 2021 – July 31, 2021, Alison Jacques, London, UK.

Awards and recognition[edit]

Museum collections[edit]

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.[27][28][29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Smee, Sebastian (November 14, 2010). "Sheila Hicks, weaving her own fabric of modernism". The Boston Globe. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  2. ^ "Sheila Hicks: Weaving as Metaphor". The Statement. Wilsonart International. Archived from the original on September 29, 2011. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  3. ^ Great women artists. Phaidon Press. p. 186. ISBN 978-0714878775.
  4. ^ Shattuck, Katheryn (September 4, 2006). "In the Woof and Warp of Miniatures, Interlocking Metaphors and Journeys". The New York Times. Retrieved September 5, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Constantine, Mildred. (1985). The art fabric : mainstream. Larsen, Jack Lenor. (1st ed.). Tokyo: Kodansha International. ISBN 0870117548. OCLC 12668036.
  6. ^ "Sheila Hicks | MoMA". The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved November 12, 2022.
  7. ^ "Sheila Hicks | MoMA". The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved June 13, 2023.
  8. ^ a b c d 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.
  9. ^ Hicks, Sheila (April 2, 2014). "SHEILA HICKS with Danielle Mysliwiec". The Brooklyn Rail (Interview). Interviewed by Mysliwiec, Danielle. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
  10. ^ "Tapestry • Pérez Art Museum Miami". Pérez Art Museum Miami. Retrieved October 11, 2023.
  11. ^ a b "Sheila Hicks: Weaving as Metaphor (past exhibition)". Bard Graduate Center. Retrieved March 4, 2018.
  12. ^ Rawsthorn, Alice (March 18, 2007). "Reinventing the look (even smell) of a book". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 4, 2018.
  13. ^ a b "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.
  14. ^ "Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column". Whitney Museum of American Art. Archived from the original on April 16, 2017. Retrieved June 26, 2017.
  15. ^ "Works | Sheila Hicks: Stones of Peace". Alison Jacques Gallery. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  16. ^ "La Biennale di Venezia - Artists". www.LaBiennale.org. Archived from the original on June 29, 2017. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ "Sheila Hicks: Music To My Eyes". Alison Jacques. Retrieved April 17, 2023.
  19. ^ Women in abstraction. London : New York, New York: Thames & Hudson Ltd. ; Thames & Hudson Inc. 2021. p. 170. ISBN 978-0500094372.
  20. ^ Guadagnino, Kate (April 21, 2022). "Artist Sheila Hicks: Observing Her Surroundings in the Courtyard". T.
  21. ^ "Alison Jacques to expand with new gallery space on Cork Street, Mayfair". Alison Jacques. Retrieved April 17, 2023.
  22. ^ Gaze, Delia; Mihajlovic, Maja; Shrimpton, Leanda (1997). Dictionary of Women Artists: Introductory surveys ; Artists, A-I. Taylor & Francis. p. 683. ISBN 978-1-884964-21-3.
  23. ^ Camhi, Leslie (March 31, 2011). "A Career Woven From Life". The New York Times. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  24. ^ a b c Gipson, Ferren (2022). Women's work: from feminine arts to feminist art. London: Frances Lincoln. ISBN 978-0-7112-6465-6.
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ "Sheila Hicks: Lignes de Vie". Centre Pompidou (in French). Retrieved March 4, 2018.
  27. ^ "Sheila Hicks | Smithsonian American Art Museum". americanart.si.edu. Retrieved October 11, 2023.
  28. ^ "Tapestry • Pérez Art Museum Miami". Pérez Art Museum Miami. Retrieved October 11, 2023.
  29. ^ "Wisdom: Artist Sheila Hicks on Success, Intuition, and "Not Wanting" a Legacy". Retrieved October 11, 2023.

Further reading[edit]

  • Lévi-Strauss, Monique (1973). Horay, Pierre; Langlois, Suzy (eds.). Sheila Hicks (in French). Paris. ISBN 2-7058-0009-3.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  • 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.

External links[edit]