Monday, July 11, 2011

Cool Chick, Sheila Hicks

I'm grateful I don't have to hogtie my kid to go see great art.  He's packed his sketchbook, just like his mom, and with big green earphones plugged into his tunes, we're off to 118 36th Street in Philadelphia to the Institute for Contemporary Art, to see Sheila Hicks: 50 Years, a retrospective of the fiber artist, which runs until August 7th.

In 40 minutes, we are parked on the same block as ICA (auspicious) and into the elegant, light-and-air-filled space, for FREE (delicious.)  I'm afraid that the photos are from the web, as there is no picture-taking at the ICA, even without flash, as we were told by the (ahem) diligent guards there.  But you can get some idea of how vibrant and impressive this show was, even from these images.

May I Have This Dance? 2002-2003
May I Have This Dance, Exhibition Opening
All Hicks's work is hand-dyed, hand-tied, hand-wrapped - methodical, obsessive and large-scale.  It hung twenty feet and higher from the ceiling, draped on walls, nestled in boxes, piled in soft mounds on the gallery floor.  Usually it doesn't bother me not to be able to touch the art, but in this case, it was REALLY difficult.  The pieces were so soft and lush and colorful, like gigantic skeins of wool yarn in a store bin - how can you not stick your hand in that? (For the record, we did restrain ourselves.)

While the scale and color of Hicks's work certainly slap you upside the head, she isn't all about the big picture.  Her work is just as impactful up close as it is far way.  I was almost more taken with the textures of her pieces - so intricate and lush - like landscapes seen from an airplane.

For more on Sheila Hicks, check out her interview in Wallpaper Magazine: click here.