MS. HICKS: Sun—flooded, full colors and abstract – some faint references to botanical forms. It was a long frieze, and it was facing – there were windows the entire length – facing the majestic volcano Mount Fuji. They’re uncomfortable with foreign elements that they’re inhaling if it isn’t on the extremely pleasant end of the spectrum. That was 1967, ’68, ’69. MS. LéVI-STRAUSS: That was a bone of contention? MS. LéVI-STRAUSS: No, but it was very important in your contacts with people. I showed the results to Yves Vidal [Director of Knoll International] on Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris. It was a major undertaking and a major investment because I had to find a way to occupy those spaces in the way I wanted them to look. And I said, “I’m leaving. All the colors were in linen? Would you please go on from there? It was another thing. It was of one of my works of long Lianes – long hanging cords and don’t forget I was living with a painter. Texture would spring loose, then reintegrate – almost like drawing with yarn. MS. HICKS: It was before the war, because I remember when war was declared. Why are they losing their time weaving? We will use cotton warp and we will use wool weft and we will decide on the density of the weave.” and the spacing of the warp. MS. HICKS: I think they look. Artists or colleagues would come and hang out and we’d end up talking, eating, and trading works. I didn’t want to jeopardize that. Imagine if someone decides mid-project they don’t like yellow; they’d rather have blue. MS. LéVI-STRAUSS: Well, except somebody who would own a gallery and who would exhibit your weavings and sell them. That was a fantastic experience because at the end of the meeting they designated me director of the art program. I needed strong collaborators – Japanese artists, designers, architects, and commercial agents. I mention all of them because this was an enormous undertaking. MS. LéVI-STRAUSS: And this was your first trip to Europe? We had to be the same height and the same weight and coordinate the same physical gestures, and then we all grew into different shapes. At the beginning I was just a consultant to them for the art program. That was my first workshop in Paris, other than one that I had been loaned temporarily on the Quai des Grands Augustins when I was making something for the Ford Foundation in New York. We had come out of Yale the same period and gone different ways, but there were affinities with these –. MS. HICKS: – invited by Pierre Pauli, the director. I remember the parents driving trucks or trailers bringing standing hair dryers and chests of drawers full of extravagant clothes. MS. LéVI-STRAUSS: So there we get to the fiber. I like to say that the kind of art I do can sometimes be done with my eyes closed, just by feeling with my fingers. Hicks also recalls Josef and Anni Albers, Rico Lebrun, Luis Barragan, Claire Zeisler, Lenore Tawney, Mildred Constantine, Mathias Goeritz, and others. And I’m looking for ways to continue my work. However, one of the workshop directors was extremely cooperative and open-minded. MS. HICKS: Yes. MS. HICKS: Well, I just don’t do what anybody tells me. What was it like when you were starting out in the 1950s and ’60s? She thought it could interest students researching on their own in an amateurish way. He became ill and asked me to take over the magazine. I might mention that the finished work was about 20 feet high by 60 feet wide and projected out from the wall six to eight feet. MS. HICKS: The alphabet or vocabulary is respectfully trotted out in that book. I applied what I’d learned to the following tapestry. People didn’t telephone much between Mexico and the United States. Almost like a Kurosawa film –landscape in very muted colors, with vague figurative references. Once we were picked up and taken in for questioning. That’s’ –. And as assistants, Albers had – and I studied under them –Sewell Sillman –. MS. LéVI-STRAUSS: Sheila, you were very kind to tell us so much about how you started a new life here in Europe and also a new relation to the public. MS. HICKS: No, he just gave me the letter of introduction. Are you going through with that contract? My brother and I went to a one-room schoolhouse in this small town, and we fed the goats on the way. I saw how people could be affected by the silent presence – the physical presence – of familiar textile garments used in a conceptual way. I wanted to learn about life. It’s more challenging. MS. LéVI-STRAUSS: So it wasn’t so much an issue for them to know if you were going to have a Master’s? YI: Wow. Hicks speaks of her family and growing up in various cities; taking classes at the Detroit Institute of Arts; studying art at Syracuse University; spending a summer painting in Taxco, Mexico; transferring to Yale University to study painting; receiving a Fulbright grant to study in Chile; traveling through South America; painting and becoming part of the Chilean artist circle; returning to Yale for a Masters of Fine Arts; moving to Mexico to pursue photography; marrying Henrik Tati Schlubach; being awarded a grant to study in France; discovering a love for Paris and making textiles; meeting other artists in Mexico; taking her early textile pieces to the Museum of Modern Art; getting a contract with Knoll Associates; moving to Paris; meeting and marrying fellow artist Enrique Zañartu; making connections with European artists; creating large scale textiles for architects and designing for spaces; exhibiting at the Lausanne Biennale of Tapestry; opening a studio and hiring employees; the challenges of commissions; creating three-dimensional pieces; visiting other artists' studios; choosing materials and techniques; managing the magazine, "American Fabrics;" her tenure as art director for the King Saud University in Saudi Arabia; the process of making a project in her studio; working in carpet workshops in Morocco; using hospital linen in her sculpture; working on commissions in Japan; teaching; and having her work recognized as art.


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