Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Woven, Crumpled, Suspended: Sheila Hicks

Unpublished photo by Cristobal Zanartu,
Cour de Rohan, Paris 2010. Photo courtesy of Sheila Hicks.

Sheila Hicks with her linen tapestry bas-relief
 for a California beach house.
(This is a detail from the photo, above)

A few weeks ago, I saw an ad in Art New England for the Hicks 50 Year Retrospective Show at the Addison, and the next day, I scurried up to see the show. You can read more about it on boston.com. The show is up in Andover until February 27, and then traveling to:

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
March 25 - August 7, 2011

Charlotte, NC
October 1, 2011 - January 29, 2012

Dimanche; made in Paris, 1960
wrapped leather, linen, paper; 3 1/2 x 5 inches

Hicks was born in 1934 in Nebraska. From 1954 to 1959 studied at Yale University with Josef Albers and Rico Lebrun. She has lived in Paris and New York since 1960's.

Josef Albers, Homage to the Square

The show is wonderfully curated, with a range of work from small weaving studies to large scale suspended or piled work, some of her tools and sketchbooks, and video. Because photography isn't allowed, I  have to find images on the web and and give you some reference links and some images from the show. 

I found my voice and my footing in my small work. It enabled me to build bridges between art, design, architecture, and decorative arts.
                             — Sheila Hicks

This was the first time I had in-the-fiber exposure to Hicks' work. She is a pioneer in making objects and large scale (wow!) commissions of fiber and color. Hicks has worked all over the world, and has work in the permanent collections of museums such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, to name a few.

Prior to this, I just kept leafing through the Sheila Hicks: Weaving as a Metaphor book, (about which I recently posted). I have poured over images of her work in this book. Many of them are small-scale hand woven pieces that she did during the 1960's. Some images of her small works:

Ringlets, Made in Paris, 1993
Saint Louis Art Museum

1979,  9x6
Synthetic, metallic fiber, wool

Rue Des Marronniers, 1973
slit woven, wrapped, reversible

Roulade Amazon, 1965
6 3/4 x 3 1/2 in.
Printed paper reversible

crumpled, rolled pages from a natural history book,
a concept for larger works

Roulade 1965
7 x 3 1/2 in.
crushed, rolled and sewn
Printed paper reversible
planning for larger hanging forms

This piled piece is one of my favorites, in a room with a couple of other similar ones, but with different color palettes. They have such exciting material value! (the pic doesn't do justice...)

He/She 1967-68
Linen and silk, Dimensions variable.
Museum of Modern Art

The Silk Rainforest, about 1975

silk, linen, and cotton, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Kneeling Stones
silk, wool, linen and other fibers

Lianes Nantaises, 1973
linen, wool, silk, synthetic raffia
Musée Jean Lurcat

Baby Time Again, 1979
Private Collection

Here's the cover of 50 Year Retrospective catalogue, below—also a very nice book, but more traditional in design.

I had a tinge of sorrow while at this show. My dear lifelong friend and mentor, Birgit, would have loved to see this show. She died last August, at the age of 85.Throughout my lifetime, Birgit supported me and my work. She jumped into her car and drove 3 hours to my open studios up until she was 81. She was a nurse at the UN in NYC, also in Paris, and my mentor in so many ways. Later in her life she became interested in weaving and fiber. I really miss her. When she is was in her 50's she revisited weaving and for several years enjoyed her loom. This is post is dedicated to you Bibban, with love.

Birgit at the Eiffel Tower in the 50's

Bibban in the 60's

Lynette and Birgit, 2009

Here are some of Birgits' weavings. I think most of them were done in the 1970's and 80's. They look like wool and found objects, mostly...


Terry Jarrard-Dimond said...

Wonderful inspiration.

Perry said...

Sheila Hicks is endlessly and uniquely creative with fiber. I never tire of looking at her work.

I love your Birgit's pieces -- she was into the found objects movement ahead of the curve. Her weavings are fun to look at to see what's tucked in where!

Lynette Haggard said...

Thanks, Terry and Perry. the Hicks show is awesome!

Nancy Natale said...

Thanks for posting this, Lynette. I had never known about Sheila Hicks' work but I want to know more. I really liked the idea of those crushed and rolled paper pieces.

I know it must have been hard for you to write the posting about your dear friend and how much she would have enjoyed seeing the Hicks show. Thank you for doing it and for showing us her work.

Lynette Haggard said...

Thank you Nancy, I think you would enjoy it in person. She really pushes the medium. It's a good tribute to Birgit!

Deborah Barlow said...

Lynette, I'm headed up there in the next week or so. The way you merged Hicks with your wonderful friend Birgit was unexpected, moving and a tribute to both.

Lynette Haggard said...

Deborah you will enjoy it. But the guards are uptight, no photos, no writing with pens, etc. Check out her sketchbooks especially fun.

Munira said...

As always i enjoyed reading your piece on Sheila Hicks - a fiber artist whose work i love. I was most moved though by your writing on your friend and mentor - Birgit. What an amazing woman! Her work is very beautiful and interesting. Sorr you lost her. But it seems she continues to inspire you and others.
Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I loved seeing Birgit's weaving- a side of her I diddn't know about. CJM