Sheila Hicks: 50 Years
March 24 - August 7, 2011
Review by JoAnn Greco
At once ropy and smooth, imposing and delicate, the 90 or so works on hand here — including a handful of dramatically-scaled architectural pieces — exhibit the mastery that Sheila Hicks brings to the fiber she so expertly manipulates and melds. More than anything else, these works throb with life and emotion.
Spilling from the ceiling in an outpouring of green, red and blues, the monumental May I Have This Dance is the epitome of exuberance, while smaller wall-hangings like Demenageur (just 9" x 8") seem to exist mainly to intrigue, to help us explore the very depths of particular fabrics, whether cotton or linen, silk or wool.
Just as she weaves these fabrics, the artist has throughout her career woven disciplines, adroitly slipping between decorative art and sculpture, photography and landscape painting, and here and there adding a dash of daring in her applications of found objects. She stretches the idea of fiber as easily as she does the material itself — everything from soba noodles to goat hair has made it in her work.
A restless world traveler, this artist soaks up influence wherever she goes: the pieces on hand bear the threads — excuse me, but weaving metaphors are so plentiful, aren't they? — of the craft as it's practiced in Mexico, Morocco, South America, Europe, India and Africa. In fact, the observations, swatches and sketches that she keeps in her travel journals occupy a fascinating section of this exhibit, which was curated by Joan Simon and Susan C. Faxon of the Addison Gallery of American Art. For the visitor, the books are just one more strand in the endlessly fascinating life of Hicks.
For more information please visit: The Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia