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Architecture and landscape in fabric

Projects | August 1, 2014 | By:

Trained as a painter at the Yale School of Art, Sheila Hicks began working with “supple materials” such as fabrics and yarns in the 1950s, and her sculptures and installations are at home in major museums around the world. Hicks demonstrated her colorful and sculptural vision in two spring exhibits using Sunbrella® material supplied by Glen Raven Custom Fabrics, Glen Raven, N.C. Sunbrella is durable, colorful, appropriate for indoor or outdoor installation and malleable—just the supple materials for Hick’s creations.

The Whitney Museum, New York, N.Y., invited 103 artists, including Hicks, to exhibit at its 77th Whitney Biennale (March 7–May 25), and Hicks paid tribute to the museum’s iconic architecture with a “living painting or a calligraphic sculpture” of a column. The 18-foot-high installation, called “Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column,” descended directly from the Whitney’s grated ceiling to the floor. It consisted of intermingled, colorful fabric strands that draw attention not just to the artwork, but to the surrounding architecture. “I want people to look at it and let their imaginations soar,” said Hicks. “I know that the museum guards and curators frown on touching the art, but this work can really stand up to any test.” She wanted to reinforce the natural cohabitation of people, architecture and art.

In another installation, the curator of The Palais de Tokyo Museum of Modern Art in Paris, France, encouraged Hicks to reconfigure the entire Grande Rotonde entrance space to create a three-dimensional, organic and abstract work. She based her installation, “Baoli,”
on Indian baoli or stepwells, inverted pyramids that lead downward to important water deposits, and are covered, protected and considered magical meeting places in western India. Hicks developed textured shapes of colorful fabric that resemble a terraced agrarian landscape. See more of Hicks’ creations or for information on Glen Raven’s Sunbrella fabrics, visit

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