Sasha Krieger
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I Weave a Metaphor

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Learning to weave by looking

In pursuit of all things textile, I investigate the small weavings of American artist, Sheila Hicks. Over the past fifty years, Hicks has used a hand-made frame loom to create intimate textile explorations. She uses her loom like a sketchbook, reflecting on daily life through a playful exploration of materials and techniques.

Weavings by Sheila Hicks. Exhibited at the Bard Graduate Center in 2006 and documented in the catalogue, Sheila Hicks: Weaving as a Metaphor
Weavings by Sheila Hicks. Exhibited at the Bard Graduate Center in 2006 and documented in the catalogue, Sheila Hicks: Weaving as a Metaphor
Kilometer 177 1/2” and Quarry Spider by Sheila Hicks. Minimes (Hick’s term for her small weavings) in the Cooper Hewitt collection
Kilometer 177 1/2” and Quarry Spider by Sheila Hicks. Minimes (Hick’s term for her small weavings) in the Cooper Hewitt collection

Better known for her large-scale installations, Hicks references centuries-old techniques in the making of her textiles. She looks for “how thread can speak, what it can do, and what you can do with it.” With thread, colour, shape, form and scale, she searches for a universal communication system that crosses cultural, racial, and geographic divisions.[1]

Sheila Hicks at the Musée Carnavalet, Paris, 2016. Photograph by Cristobal Zanartu
Sheila Hicks at the Musée Carnavalet, Paris, 2016. Photograph by Cristobal Zanartu

Inspired by Hicks’ practice, I set out to sketch on a frame loom. I plan to make quick weavings that serve as meditations on my time in isolation. I struggle with my first attempt, as it is difficult to abandon a premeditated idea. A black-on-black weaving becomes time-consuming and overworked. 

Black-on-Black. Photograph by Sasha Krieger
Black-on-Black. Photograph by Sasha Krieger

I adopt a new parameter; to create one weaving per day. I begin on a Wednesday.

A Week of Weavings. Photograph by Sasha Krieger
A Week of Weavings. Photograph by Sasha Krieger

I use these daily weavings as an opportunity to play with thread. I look through technical manuals, experimenting with traditional weaving techniques. My copy of Shirley E. Held’s “Weaving: A Handbook for the Fiber Craftsmen” is particularly useful.

Loom-Controlled Weaves: a Sampler. Photograph by Sasha Krieger
Loom-Controlled Weaves: a Sampler. Photograph by Sasha Krieger

I question how I might become skilled and proficient in a craft. Is it better to work my way through manuals by Madelyn Van Der Hoogt and Mary Meigs Atwater or to copy works by artists like Sheila Hicks, Lenore Tawney, and Anni Albers? What can I learn by looking, emulating, and repeating? If I continue to ask myself these questions, perhaps an answer will emerge. 

Drafts and Drawings by Mary Meigs Atwater, Lenore Tawney, Anni Albers, Madelyn Van Der Hoogt, and Sheila Hicks
Drafts and Drawings by Mary Meigs Atwater, Lenore Tawney, Anni Albers, Madelyn Van Der Hoogt, and Sheila Hicks

[1] Zanartu, C. [December 1, 2016] Hanging by a Thread [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.sheilahicks.com/films.


Sasha Krieger is VANDOCUMENT’s first resident artist of 2020. Follow her journey at our Online Artists Residency (OAR) page.

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