Sheila Hicks: 50 Years bridges distinctions between artist and artisan
The Mint Museum Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts proudly presents Sheila Hicks: 50 Years, an exhibition organized by The Addison Gallery of American Art, the art museum of Phillips Academy.This comprehensive exhibition, running 1 October 2011 through 29 January 2012, marks the first museum
retrospective devoted to this pioneering figure. Sheila Hicks is an artist who builds with color and thinks with line. From her earliest work of the late 1950s to the present, she has crossed the boundaries of painting, sculpture, design, drawing, and woven form, and has been a critical force in redefining the domains of contemporary art-making. While challenging the relationship of fine arts to commercial arts and studio practice to site-specific commissions, Hicks has,above all, re-imagined the profound, vital connection of artist to artisan.
Sheila Hicks: 50 Years addresses the artist’s conceptual, procedural, and material concerns via five distinct, though intimately related, fields of inquiry: bas reliefs and sculptures; small weavings and drawings; site commissions for public spaces; production textiles; and process works made of recuperated textiles, clothing, and other found objects.
Dr. Kathleen V. Jameson, President and CEO of The Mint Museum, has stated, “The Mint is honored to be the third and final venue for this exhibition, which fulfills the museum’s mission of bringing the most important international contemporary art and design to Charlotte and the region. Astonishingly original, the art of Sheila Hicks deifies
categorization as it engages our intellect and our senses in its exploration of line, form, texture, and color. Choosing thread as her medium, she was a trailblazer, forging the then unknown path of ‘cross over artist,’ straddling the fields of design, craft, and contemporary art. What I find particularly relevant for the Mint, is the artist’s long standing interest in the art of the ancient Americas and other world cultures, locating in them the visual vocabulary for a tremendously
Born in Hastings, Nebraska, Hicks received her BFA and MFA degrees from Yale (’57; ’59), studying painting with master teacher and theorist Josef Albers and history of art with George Kubler, a pivotal figure in the rediscovery of Mesoamerican art. Hicks’s self-described practice of “linear thinking” and “composing texture” reflects the Bauhaus
tradition of finding the expressive voices of different materials and the dynamic interactions of color. Equally, her work reflects her studies with Kubler, in particular the juxtapositions she first saw in his class of small Pre-Incaic weavings with the colossal structures of Machu Picchu.
From her earliest experiments with woven forms, Hicks has explored processes that skew the traditional grid, incorporating traditional and new materials or integrating found objects, even deconstructing her own works and reusing the elements to create any number of others. She has explored the role of the artist’s hand and the use of technologies to produce works that range from the size of a page to that of a football field. In addition to her studio works and commissions, Hicks is noted internationally as a teacher and mentor of several generations of artists and designers.