In the studio with… Sheila Hicks


Nebraska-born artist Sheila Hicks began in the 1950s as a painter, but today she is famous for her textile sculptures – ranging from small wall hangings to towering, room-filling installations. Inspired by ancient and contemporary weaving cultures around the world, Hicks often collaborates with local artisans to create these sculptural explorations of fiber, color and form. Ahead of a major investigation at Hepworth Wakefield, slated to open in 2022, an exhibition of new works is currently featured in “Sheila Hicks: Music to My Eyes” at Alison Jacques in London (June 4-July 31).

Where is your studio?
Paris, in the old Cour de Rohan, near the Cluny Museum and the Luxembourg Gardens, the Pont Neuf, the Procope and the rue de Seine.

What do you like most about this space?
It’s in a peaceful cobbled courtyard, where I can divide my time between a collaborative workspace on the ground floor and, upstairs, a secluded greenhouse with magnificent light.

What frustrates you about this?
The ceiling height is limited. I often work on large vertical sculptures. When the weather permits, I can go up and build structures in the yard.

Sheila Hicks at Cour de Rohan, Paris, May 2021. Photo: Cristobal Zanartu

Do you work alone?
Part of each day and night I work alone. The other part, I work with artisans and specialized women.

How messy is your studio?
Each thread, pin, needle, chisel, chalk, pencil, brush, paper and book has its established space and place.

What’s the strangest object in there?
Alien and automated tools – like iPad, computer, phone, vacuum cleaner, fire extinguisher, intercom.

What artistic tool could you least do without?
Pencils and colored pencils. A huge assortment of threads, threads, twine, fabrics, papers, trimmings, paint.

Lianes Colsa (2020), Sheila Hicks.

Lianas Colsa (2020), Sheila Hicks. Courtesy of Alison Jacques, London; © Sheila Hicks

What’s the best-leafed book in your studio?
Weaving as a metaphor [a monograph of Hicks’ work] and the catalog of the Archaeological Museo Amparo of Puebla, Mexico.

Do you cook in the studio?
Microwave for selective visitors. Or fruit platters and frequent rounds of tea and coffee.

What do you listen to while you work?
Radio: classical music channels and France Culture with flashes.

Have you ever slept in your studio?
When it’s necessary.

Is something (or anyone) banned from your studio?
The curiosity of tramps and non-stop chatterers. Squatters, vendors, lost tourists, con artists, deranged vagabonds. Moths, fleas and mice.

‘Sheila Hicks: Music to My Eyes’ is at Alison jacques, London, until July 31.



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