In 1967, when Sheila Hicks created and installed two luminous bas-relief tapestries in the Ford Foundation’s New York City headquarters, the now-renowned textile artist was at the beginning of her career. Hicks worked closely with the building’s architects, Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo, to integrate her works of art seamlessly into the building’s convening spaces. The building opened that same year, and was later designated a landmark—both inside and out.
The tapestries’ honeycomb-like pattern pays tribute to what Hicks calls “the beehive of social change activity at the foundation,” and suffuses each room with grace and warmth. But the original tapestries deteriorated over the years, and so in 2013, Hicks and her team spent a year painstakingly recreating them to ensure that her vision would live on for many decades to come. The new hand-woven textiles consist of more than a thousand hand-stitched, honey-colored medallions.
This video highlights the importance of Hicks’s art to the foundation and to the artist herself, who embarked on the extensive re-creation nearly 50 years after the original. She turned 80 in July, and arrived at the foundation to oversee installation soon thereafter.
“It’s as close as we could come to [the original version],” Hicks says. “Only better.”
Read more about Sheila Hicks and her Ford Foundation commission, then and now, in The New York Times.