Alison Jacques is pleased to announce our participation in Art Basel OVR: Portals with ‘Social Fabric’, a joint presentation of work by Sheila Hicks (b. 1934, Hastings, Nebraska) and The Gee’s Bend Quiltmakers. The curated booth celebrates the social memory of material: the manner in which textile practices can preserve and connect otherwise distinct histories and cultures.
Hicks’s art is one of continuation and connection. Extending traditional making practices into a contemporary context, the pioneering American Paris-based artist pulls vibrant threads between detached times, cultures and communities, producing fibre works that indulge in colour, texture and material while issuing a profound reinvestment in the interrelation of all things.
For ‘Art Basel OVR: Portals’, Hicks is excited to showcase a diverse body of work that was created in Paris during the recent national lockdown, a period that saw her consider contrasting ideas of hibernation and open cultural exchange, as well as the social need for collective optimism. Drawing influence from historical weaving traditions around the world, Hicks will present a new addition to her celebrated ‘Lianes’ series, a fibre-based calligraphic drawing and a two-sided bas-relief sculpture rendered in various natural fibres – linen, cotton and silk. ‘When I go to a culture’, Hicks says of her receptiveness to and appreciation of global forms of creative production, ‘I listen, look and talk to the people.’
‘Social Fabric’ will see Hicks’s work will be positioned alongside a selection of quilts produced by the women artists of Gee’s Bend, a remote black community situated on a U-turn in the Alabama River. The geographic isolation of Gee’s Bend has fostered a unique environment for both the art community and their distinct quilting vernacular, with the compositional language of the quilts being passed down through generations. This is exemplified at ‘Art Basel OVR: Portals’ through the inclusion of Qunnie Pettway, who was first taught to quilt by her grandmother, Candis Pettway, a central figure in the history of Gee’s Bend.
Just as Hicks’s work is indebted to the teachings of distant cultures, so too is the notion of inherited knowledge central to the work of the Gee’s Bend Quiltmakers. It is through the collective practice of quilting that the community can ensure the preservation and continued evolution of its unique social identity. Quilts from Minder Coleman and Loretta Pettway are constructed around the traditional ‘Log Cabin’ template, a classification devised by the earliest quiltmakers in Gee’s Bend. Lutisha Pettway’s ‘Housetop’ quilt follows a similarly time-honoured template but is rendered in corduroy, demonstrating the ease with which the Gee’s Bend Quiltmakers have historically rearticulated their aesthetic language in response to the arrival of new materials.