Since the 1950s, Sheila Hicks has brought a spirit of continuous discovery to working with fiber, which she calls “supple materials.” She has made everything from minimes—small woven sketches—to massive outdoor installations. She says that while she has no prejudices about materials, “the more pliable they are, and the more adaptable they are, the more I am attracted to them.” Her approach to process is similarly open, challenging the notion that weaving’s warp and weft must follow a grid, wrapping memorable objects in fiber, and even using her materials to puncture ceilings.
This fall we spent the day at MoMA with Hicks, looking at her work and experimenting with the fabric and cords she used to make Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column (2013–14), currently on view in Surrounds: 11 Installations. About this colorful, cascading work, the artist said, “I managed to make something that looked as though it was coming and falling out of the ceiling, or maybe had started on the ground and reached as a pillar of inquiry of looking for something, searching for something.”
This film also appears as part of MoMA’s free online course What Is Contemporary Art? on Coursera. Surrounds: 11 Installations is on view through January 4, 2020.