Sheila Hicks Prayer Rug 1965

  • Not on view

Hicks's weavings often make reference to surfaces, landscapes, and built environments. The parabolic shape delineated by Prayer Rug’s tassels mimics arch forms common to the Islamic architecture Hicks encountered in North Africa during extensive travel throughout the world. The vertical display of the piece upends the notion of the rug as a textile trodden underfoot, while bound tassels projecting from the plane emphasize the tactile quality of the wool fibers. During the 1960s and 1970s, Hicks made many soft fiber pieces for modernist corporate offices and public spaces that offered a foil to the severity of their interiors.

Gallery label from Brute Material: Fiber into Form, April 5, 2013–September 8, 2013.
Additional text

Of the genesis of her sculptural textiles, Hicks said, "I became absorbed into the story of what is a tapestry, what is not a tapestry, what is the new tapestry, what is a tapestry that leaves the wall and jumps into space." The vertical display of Prayer Rug upends the notion of the rug as a textile trodden underfoot, and the dangling, voluminous tassels highlight the tactile quality of the wool fibers. Hicks—who studied with Josef and Anni Albers at Yale, and later drew inspiration from fiber-working techniques she encountered during her travels throughout Latin America, North Africa, and India—makes work that bridges art, architecture, design, and craft. Her architectural sensibility extends to the many large-scale soft fiber pieces she developed for modernist corporate office buildings and public spaces, which provide a foil to the severity of these environments.

Gallery label from Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction, April 19 - August 13, 2017.
Arterior Textile GMBH, Wuppertal, Germany
Hand-spun wool
87 x 43" (221 x 109.2 cm)
Gift of Dr. Mittelsten Schied
Object number
Architecture and Design

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