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The Abstract Textile Art of Sheila Hicks

Sheila Hicks Creates Sculptural Tapestry Art

Sheila Hicks is an American artist who has been active since the 1950s. She is well known for her colorful, creative textile weavings that often become 3d sculptural forms. She is known and has worked all over the world and her works are displayed in dozens of museums.

History of Sheila Hicks

Sheila Hicks was born in Hastings, Nebraska in 1934. She attended Yale’s School of Art for both her bachelor of fine arts, received in 1957, and her master of fine arts, received in 1959. Much of her interest while in college seemed to focus on the Hispanic Americas. She studied in Chile on a Fulbright scholarship, visiting Andes archeological dig sites, volcanoes in Villarrica, and the island of Chiloé. Her masters’ thesis was on pre-Incaic textiles from Colombia, Chile, Peru, and Bolivia, supervised by both an archaeologist from New York’s Museum of Natural History, as well as textile legend Anni Albers. In 1959 she was given a grant to study in France, where she worked with pre-Columbian textile scholar and ethnologist Raoul D’Harcourt.

Sheila Hicks Yale Nazmiyal

Sheila Hicks studying at Yale.

After her time at Yale, Hicks relocated to Taxco el Viejo, Mexico. She taught at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She was an avid photographer during this time, taking pictures of local architecture. In 1965, she married and had two children with Enrique Zañartu, an artist. She founded workshops in Mexico, Chile, and South Africa, and worked in Morocco and India. Currently, she lives and works in Paris, France, occasionally returning to New York.

Sheila Hicks’ Artwork

Sheila Hicks began her art career as a painter, and it shows through in all of her works. She is bold and creative with use of color and texture. Currently, she is known for her textured, sculptures and installations woven from textile. They range in size from miniature to room-sized. Her miniature pieces, woven on miniature looms, incorporate all kinds of strange materials. She will make art with noodles, rubber bands, shoelaces, embroidery thread, socks, shirt collars, and even wool sheets worn by Carmelite nuns.

Sheila Hicks Secret Structures Looming Presence Nazmiyal

“Secret Structures, Looming Presence” by Sheila Hicks at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Hicks’ fascination with architecture, as well as her technical understanding of it, shows through in many of her installations. Her massive artworks are built and designed with many textile materials. Her inspirations come from cultures all over the world, which she has traveled to to study and gather insight. She studies indigenous weaving practices of people from Mexico, France, Morocco, India, Chile, Sweden, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Japan and South Africa. In these countries she has developed relationships with artists, architects, cultural leaders, and others who have helped her with her works.

Sheila Hicks Mexico Nazmiyal

Sheila Hicks studying knotting in Oaxaca, Mexico in 1961.

Sheila Hicks’ artwork is displayed at some of the most prominent museums around America and the world. Her pieces are in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Art in Boston, the Tate Gallery in London, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and countless others, as well as plenty of private collections. She holds many awards and recognitions, including honorary doctorate degrees from both Rhode Island School of Design and École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where she still works today.

Sheila Hicks Campo Abierto Nazmiyal

Sheila Hicks’ installation “Campo Abierto” at the Bass, Miami Beach, 2019.

This art blog about Sheila Hicks was published by Nazmiyal Antique Rugs.

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