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Art & Design

Sheila Hicks, The Principal Wife, 1968, Gift of in memory of Mary Josephine Cutting Blair

Sheila Hicks

The Principal Wife

Sheila Hicks
American, b. 1934
The Principal Wife
Bundled and wrapped linen, rayon and acrylic yarns
Length: 254 cm (100 inches)
Gift of in memory of Mary Josephine Cutting Blair 2005.42

One of the most influential artists working in the fiber medium over the last forty years, Sheila Hicks studied painting at Yale with Josef Albers, but discovered the depth and complexity possible in textiles during a trip to South America in the 1950s. Her first fiber works were loom woven, but studying ancient Peruvian textiles directed her to off-loom techniques. In The Principal Wife she created a hanging whose segments can be rearranged and adjusted in length. Inspired by the extended family connections she saw in North Africa, she explored here how many parts can become one, and yet can split and recombine into new, and still whole, units. The Principal Wife was shown in the seminal 1969 Museum of Modern Art fiber art exhibition, ‘Wall Hangings.’

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