INSIDE ISSUE 105: INTERWOVEN
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It is difficult to imagine the place of textiles in contemporary art today without Sheila Hicks’ sculptural weaves. She has vastly advanced the medium and played a role in textile arts’ propagation and legacy. Now eighty-six, Hicks, originally from Nebraska, is renowned for her experimental and colourful textile installations, each holding a deeply personal message. She has thrived beyond the conventions of textile-making, refusing to limit weaving to the realm of decorative art, and has transformed it into a sensorial and interactive experience.
Hicks’ education at the Yale School of Art was the foundation and source of her inspiration. The combination of Bauhaus painting classes with Josef Albers and courses led by George Kubler, an expert in pre-Colombian art, shaped Hicks’ aesthetic. She still characterises Kubler’s seminars as her most memorable academic experience; ‘I began teaching myself how to weave because I was interested in how the pre-Incas structured thought with threads, with lines ... They were engineering in three dimensions and creating their own materials’. Using recycled painting stretchers, Hicks constructed her own improvised backstrap loom and set herself a mission to explore the structures and languages of pre-Columbian textiles.
Weaving, stamping, assembling, twisting and knotting, Hicks has embraced many voices and techniques in textiles throughout her sixty-year career. Her works have incorporated everyday objects such as elastic bands, shirt collars, ... by Lydia Caston