LOOMING LARGE

or over 60 years, artist Sheila Hicks has carried around a small, wooden square.

Originally intended to be a stretcher for a future painting, Hicks instead chose to turn it into a miniature loom by adding nails along two sides.

The 12.25-inch device has accompanied her on travels across the globe: through Mexico, South America, Europe, Asia, and India.

While Hicks also utilizes a sketchbook, she ultimately turns her observations into small,

thread-based sketches, which she calls minimes.

To date, she has made well over a thousand of these pieces. Incorporating locally sourced fibers and occasional found objects with various weaving techniques and color studies,

the minimes serve as both a literal and metaphorical travelogue, a document of material and technical experiments, bound together by a personal narrative informed by their location of origin.

They also serve as the basis for Hicks’ larger, installation-based works, which will occupy the lower level gallery and garden of the Nasher Sculpture Center from May 5 to August 18.

The exhibition brings together the artist’s signature colorful poufs and wall hangings with a site-specific outdoor installation.

While a recent spate of highprofile exhibitions has given Hicks the aura of a late-career artist finally getting her due, her place in the lexicon of contemporary art has long been established.

Her whimsical, public-pleasing gestures are the result of a dogged,

decades-long study of color, form, and material, and an almost obsessive desire to narrate personal experiences through textiles.

“Sheila is part of a generation of artists working in fiber since the 1960s who used the material to create woven,

three-dimensional works that liberated fiber from the loom and thereby elevated the medium from its historically low position in art historical hierarchies,” says Nasher Assistant Curator Leigh Arnold.

“Her impact can be seen on many contemporary artists working today who are interested in antiform, soft sculpture,

or those interested in excavating various media typically associated with craft or design and bringing it into the realm of high art.”

Hicks’ fascination with fibers began as a child.

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