South Park Magazine

A minute with Sheila Hicks

"Sheila Hicks: 50 Years" will run from October 1, 2011 through January 29, 2012, at The Mint Museum Uptown.
"Sheila Hicks: 50 Years" will run from October 1, 2011 through January 29, 2012, at The Mint Museum Uptown. T. Ortega Gaines

Internationally celebrated fiber artist Sheila Hicks is famous for her works of vibrant color, texture and distinctiveness. Her breathtaking works of linen, wool, and other materials have been displayed across the globe and are now making their stop in Charlotte at the Mint Museum Uptown through Jan. 29. “Sheila Hicks: 50 years” includes a monumental work formerly titled “May I have this dance?” when it hung in the Minneapolis headquarters of retail giant Target. When it moved here for the exhibit, Hicks renamed the piece “Mega footprint near the hutch” in recognition of Charlotte’s growth. Hicks now commutes between her studio in New York and France. More information:

What is fiber art?It’s an expression that came to use in the ‘60’s. The art critics said ‘There’s a proliferation of this type of art emerging, and we haven’t had the terminology. We don’t know what it is.’ (One article) said it was “when tapestry leapt off the wall,” which was kind of fun because everyone knew what tapestry was for centuries.

How long does it take to create art like this?It does come to mind when you look at this art that it is labor intensive and a lot of art today isn’t, like conceptual art. The concept is done in three minutes; the execution is done in two minutes. And, a lot of the visual art today is video or performance. So, this can be the background of performance art. The important thing to think of with a public space like this is it’s engagement. Just last night a woman was cleaning up the floor and she started dancing.

Where do you draw your inspiration?Sitting and talking to you. Looking at others and seeing them, seeing what they’re wearing. From people; what they’re doing with their hair because people are doing so many crazy things with their hair. The world around me. Waking up in the morning.

What is it about this art that appeals to you?How do you make art? You have an idea first. And then you find a methodology and materials to make your art. So, some people are drawn to one thing depending on the idea they have. What materials are they going to use to tell that story? In the visual world, I am always seeking harmony, not conflict.

What can people expect to see when they come to the exhibition?Bewilderment. Puzzlement. What’s all this about? And, why is it in a museum?

Want to go?Andrea Vail, an instructor in the fibers program at UNC Charlotte, discusses "Sheila Hicks: Celebrating 50 Years of Textile Design and Art" at a Friends of The Mint lecture Dec. 16. Coffee at 10 a.m.; lecture at 10:30 a.m. The Mint Museum Uptown, 500 S. Tryon St. 704-337-2000;