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Sheila Hicks, Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column, 2013-14 (installation view, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York). Collection of the artist; courtesy Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York. Image courtesy of Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

This cascading installation is one of the most massive produced by Sheila Hicks since she began working with textiles, or “supple materials” as she refers to her medium, in the late 1950s. As with many of her other large-scale works, Hicks designed the piece with the architecture of the gallery in mind. Of interest to her here are the coffered, open design of the ceiling and the sense of solidity she found in the stone floor. By extending the cords so they unfurl from the ceiling and coil on the floor, she hopes to activate viewers’ awareness of these architectural elements.

Trained as a painter, Hicks became interested in global, and particularly South American, textile traditions, going on to develop her distinctive merger of painting, sculpture, drawing, and weaving. For her, the way that the richly colored lines of her pieces move and intersect is a form of drawing in three dimensions.

Also on view in the Biennial are four smaller works by Hicks, made from threads of silk, paper, pineapple fiber, and cotton.

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