Proust Visits the Brooding Winter Tree (1999), Lianes Nantaises (1973), Wow Bush / Turmoil in Full Bloom (1980), The Silk Rainforest (1975), Tahoe Wall (1970), and a study for Fugue Rothschild Bank Headquarters, Paris, 1969. Zaaaaannnnnngggggg -Holly Samuelsen
I’m heading down to Philadelphia today, and all my life, Philadelphia will mostly just mean Sheila Hicks, ’cause I was one of the lucky ones to see her big show at the ICA a couple years ago. It completely spun me out. Sheila is our great head honcho, the top fiber arts dog of all time. She studied at Yale with Josef Albers in the mid-1950’s, then went down to learn weaving in Mexico. Since then she’s been based in New York and Paris, basically laying down the category of fiber arts both small and largescale, for both industrial use and for the purpose of just mind-melting wizardry.
One thing I noticed when I was at the show was how many of her pieces were commissioned for corporate lobbies, like at IBM, and corporate spaces, like a bank in Mexico City, an insurance company in Milwaukee, and the poshest Air France Boeing 747 ever. This got me thinking: 1. I often skip looking at woven panels and carpeting in public spaces because BART is so gross, but sometimes it’s magnificent and I should pay more attention (and I do). 2. If big corporations are the only guys with enough cash and foresight to commission crazy big fiber installations like hers, then suddenly I’m all for big corporations.
There is much to read and learn about Sheila. Check out Sikkema Jenkins & Co., her gallery in New York, for even more images of her work. The Smithsonian has also done an oral history with her and there are many nice books out—Sheila Hicks: 50 Years is one we carry at the shop.
This post originally appeared on the Gravel & Gold blog.