sheila hicks pillar of inquiry
Discover Sheila Hick's Pillar of Inquiry exhibited at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Sheila Hicks. Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column. 2013–14. Acrylic fiber, 204 × 48 × 48″ (variable). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Sheila Hicks, Glen Raven Inc., and Sikkema Jenkins and Co. Installation view, Surrounds: 11 Installations, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, October 21, 2019–January 5, 2020. Digital Image © 2019 MoMA, NY

“In all of the cultures of the world, textile is a crucial and essential component…. There’s a level of familiarity that immediately breaks down any prejudice,” Sheila Hicks has said. Since the 1950s, she has brought an approach of continuous discovery to working with textiles and fiber, or “supple materials,” as she calls them—shaping them into small scale weavings on up to  monumental installations. She designed the cascading Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column to span from ceiling to floor, stating, “I want my work to hit the floor in a very emphatic way, so it…spills, puddles, and looks as though it’s alive. It’s moving and has its own internal energy.”

For Hicks, color, form, and texture are inextricably linked. She wants her work to ignite our urge to touch.  “I think that is important, the wanting: the desire to hold it in your hands, to befriend it, to see if it bites, or if it’s compatible to your existence, and in what way,” she said. Always exploring new materials, Hicks made Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column out of vibrantly colored, weather resistant fibers designed for outdoor use.

Watch the video where Sheila Hicks talks about her inspiration, materials she likes to work with and how she came up with the concept of Pillar of Inquiry.

More information on Pillar of Inquiry

See more of Sheila Hicks work on