On the Cover:
Sheila Hicks, Escalade Beyond Chromatic Lands (detail), 2016–17. Natural and pigmented acrylic fiber, dimensions variable. Photo: Cristobal Zanartu.
Many artists today fruitfully deploy the matter of their art as a vehicle for their ideas; conversely those in this issue tend to explore materials as an avenue to conceptual innovation. For instance, in her essay on the inimitable Sheila Hicks, recipient of the ISC’s 2022 Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award, Cara McCarty quotes the artist as saying, “I live in an immense labyrinth composed of great webs, masses of threads, uncharted tunnels, and mountains to climb.” Hicks lives in these materials, explores through them: they are not her servants. The Irish artist Maud Cotter similarly looks “for things that go beyond their own material entities and become other things” in her sculptures and installations. Leonor Antunes takes 20th-century architecture and design as her primary “material,” using reinterpreted elements to investigate what can be produced from the “transversal” histories that result. Like Antunes, Edmund de Waal and Noe Aoki also mine the veins of history, though in opposite ways. de Waal seeks to counterbalance the “dangerous” purity of porcelain by seeking to acknowledge brokenness, actual or metaphorical, while Aoki employs iron in celebration of innovation, “because it has played a major role in the development of civilization through its use in the production of tools and devices ranging from farming implements to weapons.” All of this month’s featured artists remind us that the stuff of art has its own life and history, which courses through the work made from it, and that we, as viewers, have a richer experience when we are attuned to that fact. —Daniel Kunitz