GISELLE HICKS

ABOUT

(b. 1979, Boston, MA, lives and works in Helena, MT)

Giselle Hicks is known for her hand-pinched ceramic vessels and slip-cast porcelain tiles that consider volume, repetition, and pattern. Referencing totemic ceramic forms and decorative textiles, her work examines the role of material culture in everyday life—historically and today. Hicks has participated in various artist-in-residence programs including the Anderson Ranch Arts Center, the Arts/Industry Program at the Kohler Company, The Clay Studio in Philadelphia, Greenwich House Pottery, and The Archie Bray Foundation.

Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, (Boston, MA), Belger Arts Center, (Kansas City, MO), the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, (Sheboygan, WI), and Bellevue Art Museum, (Bellevue, WA). In 2001, Hicks completed her BFA at Syracuse University, and she received her MFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 2010.

GISELLE HICKS

ON HER WORK

“I make a range of things with clay, including floral Still-Lifes, full-scale ceramic tables and beds, decorative wall tiles inspired by textiles and pinched vessels. I enjoy a studio practice where I can move from one body of work to another where each process satisfies a different creative impulse, always with the intention of making something beautiful for one to encounter or live with.

These hand-pinched vessels are inspired by iconic forms found throughout ceramic history. They are formal explorations in shape, volume, color and composition. The slow and rhythmic forming process employs very few tools, yielding fresh, dynamic silhouettes. The opaque glaze is soft to the touch like a worn river stone. Fingerprints remain in the clay surface celebrating the slight imperfections of the handmade object.”

DIRECTOR NOTES ON GISELLE HICKS

“Due to the extended run of Nature/Nurture, we have had the opportunity to reflect on paths taken, connections made and shared experiences in our weekly series of FC News & Stories with each issue focusing on an individual artist in the exhibition. The ON NURTURE statements written by each artist acknowledges family, artist mentors, education and for Giselle Hicks, the importance of the residency system and the network it has built for her at mid-career.

Giselle and Leslie Ferrin met in the late summer of 2005 at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center where she was a resident in the Arts/Industry Program, working in the factory for the first time. We both recall the casual meeting that led to her move to Western Massachusetts, working for the gallery and start her independent studio practice as one of the first resident artists at ProjectArt. Hicks is one of the artists included in this exhibition for whom the role the gallery plays in nurturing careers, is really one of co-nurturing. These long relationships grow and form strong personal friendships that motivate us both to strive for mutually beneficial professional goals.”  – Leslie Ferrin, 2020.

ON NURTURE

“My creative interests and curiosities were nurtured early on by my parents and teachers. I was exposed to a variety of visual and performing arts growing up with my mom who enjoyed learning about and collecting art, while my dad was a big proponent of Joseph Campbell’s ‘follow your bliss’ mantra. He thought, if you do something you love, doors will open. What a gift to offer your child. My announcement that I wanted to study art, particularly ceramics, was met with encouragement. I came out of the womb driven to achieve, so my parents must have trusted that I would figure out a way through a career in the arts.

Fortunately, the path had been paved by some incredible makers that continue to serve as inspiring models  – Ruth Duckworth, Lucie Rie, Marguerite Wildenhain, Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hess, Viola Frey, Agnes Martin. I’ve been fortunate to have as many wonderful male mentors and teachers – David McDonald, Errol Willett, and Doug Casebeer to name a few. However, it is the female mentors – Beth Lipman, Leslie Ferrin, Linda Sikora, Ann Currier and Andrea Gill – that gave me space, support and permission to develop my voice as a woman, teacher, and full-time studio artist.”  – Giselle Hicks, 2020.

ON PROCESS | PINCHED VESSELS

This series of coiled-and-pinched vessels came from a self-imposed assignment to make something using only a few tools. My hope is that the finished piece reflects my skill and control of the material while acknowledging the limitations and idiosyncrasies of my hands and body.

I begin a day in the studio by making a few sketches, wedging clay and rolling a pile of coils. I work on eight to ten forms at a time, rotating from one to another as they stiffen enough to continue building up the thin walls. It takes about two days to finish a group of vessels. Typically, I work in this rhythm for two weeks before I have enough work to fire. Once the vessels are dry, they are loaded and fired in a bisque kiln, allowed to cool for a day, then sanded and washed in preparation for the glaze application. I dip the pots into a large bucket of glaze to get a thick and even coating. All the work is then fired in an electric kiln to 2230 degrees (cone 6).

ON PROCESS | DECORATIVE WALL TILES

This series of work is influenced by decorative textiles such as quilts, weavings, and embroidered tapestries. I think the labor dedicated to creating these textiles, particularly the quilt, is a beautiful gesture to the significance of these everyday objects which are integral to the rituals of daily life. I want this work to reflect the same care, attention, and labor that went into making the original textiles.

The process of slip-casting has its roots in industry and is used to make a form repeatedly, often on a mass scale. When I begin a new project, I first make a prototype of a pillow by carving a block of plaster into the shape of a soft pillow. Next, I make a two-part plaster mold of the prototype. Once the molds are prepared, I pour colored porcelain-slip into the molds, where it sits for an hour at which point I pour out the excess slip. The plaster mold absorbs the moisture from the porcelain slip, resulting in a hollow form with quarter-inch thick walls. When the form comes out of the mold, I draw the pattern into the surface with a sharp stylus. Once the carving is complete I paint a colored slip over the whole design, wipe the excess off, and what slip remains is inlaid into the carved pattern. The unglazed porcelain looks soft and invites the touch.

Emily Zilber discussing Giselle Hicks “And then it was Still II” in New Blue and White at the Museum of Fine Art Boston

ON AND THEN IT WAS STILL

The series, And Then it Was Still, references both art and literature.  In the 17th century European Still Life paintings, the fragile beauty of flowers is made permanently still in the exquisitely painted object, and thus shared across time as a concept of beauty.

In my work I am inspired to capture that sense of beauty and transience in three dimensional form in order to make solid, still and permanent, something that is fleeting and invisible, such as the characteristic or sense of a person, an exchange between a loved one, or an exuberant meal shared with family and friends. Often taking place within the domestic realm, I find beauty in these daily illuminations and I want to hold them still and give them form. Though these moments are intangible, they mark us and become a part of who we are.

In addition to the visual, I draw ideologically from themes resonate in the book ‘To the Lighthouse’ by Virginia Wolf where the main characters struggle to hold on to and make still the complex beauty they recognize in the small and fleeting, everyday moments.

And Then it was Still presents the table as a dimensional Still Life. I imagined the table blooming with flowers, then frozen in time representing the abundant beauty that I want to hold still.

Giselle Hicks, 2013

THE WOMEN

THE WOMEN Works on view include recent pieces by women whose primary medium is clay and selected works from private and artist archives by female potters and sculptors. ON VIEW Oct 28, 2017 – Apr 21, 2018 Ferrin Contemporary 1315 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams, MA Click here for details. Ceramic Art and Figural Sculpture

Giselle Hicks Featured in LVBX Magazine

GISELLE HICKS FEATURED IN LVBX MAGAZINE Meet Artist Giselle Hicks CULTURE, PROFILES JANUARY 20, 2020 Meet ceramics artist, Giselle Hicks. Her works are subtle and yet strongly moving in their simplicity and depth of...

Year in Review 2015

YEAR IN REVIEW 2015 A review of last year's highlights and trends with special thanks to all who made it possible with their art, interest, encouragement, and support. Click here...

Ceramic Top 40 | 2013

Exhibition of artists under and over age 40 currently working in ceramics November 1 – January 25, 2014 presented by Ferrin Contemporary and Red Star Studios at Belger Crane Yard…

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