I’m not necessarily a follower of fiber artists, I think few are, but ever since coming face to face with a huge off white piece by renowned artist Sheila Hicks at the Cooper Hewitt, I’ve becoming more and more intrigued by her work every day. So much inspiration can be taken from her use of color to her international influences (she studied and traveled to Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru and Chile, and back north to Mexico when she began her foray into textiles).
From her tiny and precious miniatures to the monumental installations, her work is as fresh and innovative today as it was when she began decades ago. I could easily see her oeuvre inspiring fashion today. Her work is almost primitive, whimsical and very handmade while still seeming very sophisticated and enlightened.
As a woman, Hicks has always been respected and admired. She is known as an encouraging and helpful mentor and really made her own way in a medium not yet fully recognized in the art world during a time where it was hard enough just to be a female artist in a male dominated field.
As I discovered in this 2006 article she is still working at the age of 72 and is still finding inspiration from the wide world- this time the island Ouessant. While her life has been spent traveling and she continues to split her time between Paris, New York and Tokyo, she began as a nice Midwestern girl who has since counted consultant, teacher, publisher, and artist among her professions.
While unfortunately the publication she edited for a short time: American Fabrics and Fashion is pretty difficult to find, a lot of her work is online for your viewing pleasure. Be prepared to want to find thick, makeshift, patch worked and beautifully colored scarves or jackets. Also be prepared to sadly not find anything quite like it to add to your wardrobe.