Campo Abierto

Grouping works of art from various periods, Campo Abierto (Open Field) explores the formal, social and environmental aspects of landscape that have been present, yet rarely examined, throughout Sheila Hicks’ expansive career. Prompting contemplations on collaboration, dialogue and discussion, the exhibition is rooted in the reconfiguration of Escalade Beyond Chromatic Lands (2016-2017), the artist’s vast installation produced for the Arsenale at the Venice Biennale in 2017. The exhibition brings together several large-format installations, as well as more intimately-scaled works, that utilize and transform the architecture of The Bass’ upstairs galleries. The selection of works in Campo Abierto (Open Field) foreground the museum’s context in South Florida, a multilingual locus traversed by complex immigration waves and patterns, alongside environmental concerns.

Although Hicks’s family taught her to sew, knit and crochet, she began pursuing weaving in earnest while studying painting at Yale University in the mid-1950s. There she met Anni Albers, perhaps the best-known textile artist of the 20th century, through her husband, famed artist and colour theorist Josef Albers. Anni Albers enlightened Hicks to the possibilities associated with fibre – a thrilling prospect in theory. Hicks admits, however, that learning to listen to her media while also making them work for her was challenging, saying in 2014, “At the beginning, you work with materials; you don’t know them very well, and try to get them to do what you think you want them to do. As time goes on, you understand the way to make them do what they want to do, but your way.”

Hicks’s first attempts at weaving were modest, a function both of practicality and the probing nature of her early fibre constructions. Using a crude loom she built using a painting stretcher and nails, Hicks explored a language that she found aligned closely with her work on canvas. After founding workshops in Mexico, Chile and South Africa, and working in Morocco and India, she now divides her time between her Paris studio and New York. Hicks has exhibited internationally in both solo and group exhibitions.

Until 29 September 2019, The Bass Museum of Art, 2100 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139 USA

Read next: Ana Elena Mallet's article Designing Modern Mexico in the Latin issue. Subscribe to Selvedge here.

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