Sheila Hicks: Weaving as Metaphor
New York: Yale University Press for The Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture
Edited by Nina Stritzler-Levine, with texts by Arthur C. Danto and Joan Simon
This book is an object. Its white embossed, textured hard cover is soft to the touch, with 5 cm-thick, 418 rough-sawn page edges that contribute to its sculptural heft. Not particularly large, as books go: 22 cm height x 15.5 cm wide. It’s the juicy ratio of height-times-weight-times-thickness that qualifies it as a full-on object. It can function as a one-hander, but it’s better with two.
Sheila Hicks, an American icon of contemporary textile practice since the 1950s, has for decades made small weavings and studies made of found objects including natural materials, bits of paper, rubber bands and plastic – notations in miniature of her everyday life – reflections on decades of travel, rich studio experimentation, straight-ahead loom weaving, rambling material studies and design explorations.
This catalogue of her 2006 exhibition at New York’s Bard Graduate Center visually documents nearly 200 of her miniatures with sensitively scaled photographs and first-person anecdotes surrounding their existence. Of her 2005 Cluster of Sounds, made of fine synthetic threads, she writes “Ninety colors intermingle, fuse into a muted mass, and become a tangled tone cluster. The more colors there are, the less color is distinguishable. How many colors make gray, and how many grays are there?”
If you are in New York this spring, don’t miss Sheila Hicks’s monumental installation “Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column” (2013–14) on the 4th floor of this year’s Whitney Biennial.
Textile Museum of Canada