A new exhibition at the Nasher embracing fabric and form
Sheila Hicks holds a unique place in the era of modern and contemporary art, creating monumental fiber sculptures and woven pieces since the 1970s. Her 60+ year career brought new life to the medium of fiber art—long considered a “craft” rather than fine art to be displayed in museums and galleries. Much of this flippant attitude was due to fiber art’s ties to the domestic realm and one of necessity rather than creativity.
Hicks’ artistic career began in painting and color theory and expanded to interest in Pre-Columbian textiles during her time studying at Yale University in the 1950s. During this period, Hicks received grants to visit Chile and other parts of South America, documenting and studying indigenous weaving techniques, thus beginning her incorporation of textiles into her own practice.
After showing her works internationally at the 2017 Venice Biennal and the 2012 São Paulo Biennial in Brazil, as well as numerous solo shows, Hicks’ works have arrived in Dallas.
Sheila Hicks: Seize, Weave Space at the Nasher Sculpture Center provides a new space for Hicks’ colorful bundles of fiber to fill and in turn be transformed by their environment. Unlike many artists, Hicks does not treat her works preciously. Rather, she embraces their impermanence by altering their configurations in each show and exposing her tendril or rope-like pieces to the elements. Hicks also incorporates materials from earlier works, creating threads that connect the pieces within her prolific portfolio.
Hicks’ works aren’t the only things that take on new lives at the Nasher; the space in which the pieces inhabit also become something new altogether. For instance, as you descend into the Lower Level Gallery, Hicks’ plush, floor-to-ceiling sculpture appears. Defying the confines of the gallery’s four walls, her signature brightly- hued “yarn balls” spill out towards you, disregarding the gallery that attempts to restrain them.
The exhibition also extends into the garden where Hicks utilizes industrial marine fabrics (water and sun resistant) in vivid hues, wrapping them around the building’s columns like vines. As you make your way into the garden you find rings of fabric strips encircling the base of the trees and intermingling quietly with the Nasher’s permanent collection of bronze, stone, and steel sculptures, bringing seemingly opposing mediums and materials into conversation with one another.
Sheila Hicks: Seize, Weave Space provides a unique opportunity for visitors to experience Hick’s deep tactile work in person. And for regulars of the Nasher, the exhibition offers a fresh perspective on the center’s permanent collection. — Emily Rueggeberg
The Details: Nasher Sculpture Center, 2001 Flora Street. Sheila Hicks: Seize, Weave Space is on view now through August 18, 2019.