Sheila Hicks (b. 1934)
Indisputably the most internationally known living Nebraska artist and one of the world‘s most renowned fiber artists, Sheila Hicks was born in Hastings, Nebraska in 1934. From her early life in Nebraska, Hicks gives credit to her mother, great aunts, and grandmothers for influencing her art through various techniques of working with textiles and threads.
Hicks studied painting under the tutorage of Josef Albers and pre-Columbian textiles with George Kubler at Yale University where she was inspired by the Bauhaus theory and received both B.F.A. and M.F.A. degrees in painting. She was also a recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship to Chile in 1957. Her work can be found in both public and private collections throughout the United States as well as abroad. Hicks divides her time between her Paris and New York City studios.
As a major creative force in the world of fibers, Hicks‘ work chronicles her contributions as a consultant, teacher, publisher, and artist. As a consultant, Hicks considered herself “a gun-for-hire,” where she assisted with the production of textiles in India and Morocco. In her role as teacher, she generously shares her knowledge with students and both encourages and challenges them to discover and pursue their own direction. For a short period of time, Hicks directed and published an international magazine American Fabrics and Fashion.
As a fiber artist, her influence and achievements are truly international in scope. The extent of Hicks‘ travel and exposure to other cultures is reflected in both the concept and final form of her fiber pieces. Her work ranges from miniatures to architectural commissions to whimsical soft stones and employ both loom and non-loom techniques. The exquisite miniatures are woven on small frame looms and provide for the creative exploration of traditional and non-traditional techniques. Hicks’ architectural commissions are often monumental in scale and account for a large segment of her professional endeavors. In acknowledgement of her architectural commission accomplishments, she was awarded the American Institute of Architects‘ gold medal for the successful integration of art and architecture. In addition she became the first woman to receive the prestigious Medaille des Artes Plastiques from the Academie d‘Architecture for her art contributions to architecture.
The first piece acquired by the Museum of Nebraska Art was a commission for the Museum completed in 1979. The non-loom tondo piece is entitled Hastings Visit to the Great Plains and is a bas-relief creation utilizing natural linen that is partially wrapped with embroidery cotton.
Hicks‘ work is also included in such collections as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, both in New York City; Museum of Fine Arts Boston; The Art Institute of Chicago; Museo de Bellas Artes, Santiago, Chile; and the Museums of Modern Art, Tokyo and Kyoto. One-person exhibitions include those at the Seoul Art Center, Korea; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.
The Museum of Nebraska Art holds eights pieces by Sheila Hicks.
Researched and written by John Dinsmore, 2001