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The Inspiration Of Shelia Hicks

Artist Shelia Hicks is 83 and she is having the time of her life.

The French-based American artist is currently the talk of the Parisian town as she is the subject of a major Pompidou exhibition dedicated to hear life in art. For many, this may be the first time they are hearing about this artist, one who created and still creates fiber based artworks that look like felted creatures from another planet, sea monsters and moldy rocks from a world where everything is in hyper-color. She makes quite beautiful things that bend natural form into the almost science fictional in the hopes of reshaping space.

What’s most remarkable to me is the length and breadth of Hicks’ work. The artist got her start at Yale in 1959 and relocated to Paris by 1964, where she has been based since. She’s done a ton in her life – from working on The Shining to marrying a beekeeper – and is the sort of aging artist inspiration that we should look to when in need of a creative fix.

An example: Hicks’ always working mentality. Not in the American sense, not in the workaholic sense, but in the sense that she is always trying to solve a problem with her art, keeping busy hands to match the busy mind by occupying it in a productive, meaningful manner. The New Yorker explains.

Since her student days, Hicks has carried around a pocket loom that she uses to make weavings she calls “minimes” — little things on which to try out new techniques, or just to meditate. (“Was ist das, girl?” she recalls Albers saying, of the loom.) “The only time I didn’t do them was in 1988, after I stepped off the curb into a gutter in New York. I had screws in my right leg like the Eiffel Tower.”

How marvelous is that? A little loom to keep you tethered to your practice, anywhere you go.

Thus, a question for all artists: what’s your pocket loom? How do you keep your fingers busy to work out new fiber art? Something to consider, surely, as we should all think about how we work through our problems and thoughts and ideas in art versus just trying to work “to work.”

Hicks is an inspiration, in that sense. Here’s hoping we can all make it to the Pompidou to see her show.

Photo via.

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