Sheila Hicks works with color, line, and texture, and has been “thread-conscious,” to use her words, from an early age. Introduced to weaving, knitting, and fiber arts by her mother, grandmother, and great-aunt, she studied painting and art history under Josef Albers and George Kubler, respectively. Her aesthetic is informed by Bauhaus principles picked up in the classroom, as well as pre-Columbian textile traditions learned during a Fulbright study in Chile and travel in Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia. Hicks has rolled, wrapped, sewn, and woven wall-sized sculptural installations, works on paper, small objects resembling a knitter’s test swatch, and outsized corporate commissions, always blurring the boundary between fine art and contemporary craft, expanding the limits of what a thread can do, and imagining new possibilities in color. Among her many innovations is her practice of creating works whose size and shape vary with each installation because their constituent elements can be rearranged.
Installed at the Mint Museum Uptown, Mega Footprint was reconfigured by Hicks from the components of May I Have This Dance?, a work commissioned in 2003 for Target’s corporate headquarters in Minneapolis. Hicks’s original sources were a small brass knot that had been a paperweight on her father’s desk and a lively traditional Breton circle dance seen on a postcard. When Target redesigned their space, the decision was made to find a new home for the installation, and May I Have This Dance? arrived at the Robert Haywood Morrison Atrium in Fall 2011. The artist then gave it the new name of Mega Footprint near the hutch, retaining its previous name in parentheses. The brightly-colored tubes enliven the great space and extend a vibrant welcome to museum visitors.
The Mint Museum has in its collection several other works by Hicks, including Soft Stones (1995-97), balls of tightly-wrapped, multi-colored thread piled on top of each other. Hicks was honored in 2010 by the Archives of American Art for her distinguished career, and was invited by the French government to create a new design for the Gobelins tapestry works.
Gift of Target Corporation. 2011.42