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Originally from Southern California, Hicks received her BFA from Syracuse University and her MFA from Alfred University in New York. She has participated in various artist-in-residence programs including the Anderson Ranch Art Center, the Arts/Industry Program at the Kohler Company, The Clay Studio in Philadelphia, Greenwich House and The Archie Bray Foundation. Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, The John Michael Kohler Art Center, the Bellevue Art Museum, the Southwest School of Art, the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, and the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.
Giselle currently lives and works in Helena, Montana.
About ten years ago I read a theory on beauty in Elaine Scarry’s book, On Beauty and Being Just, that articulates the motivating force in all my studio endeavors.
She writes that when one stands in the presence of beauty, it incites the desire to replicate. ‘The eye sees something beautiful, the hand wants to draw it.’ This impulse to replicate is an attempt to possess or re-live the original beautiful encounter through a new language, form or sensory experience.
The attempt to recreate the initial encounter is futile, one can never replicate the original experience of recognition. But redemption comes in the desire that propels us forward towards the replication of the beauty. A new beautiful thing is made. Thus, beauty is self-generating. Beauty is inherently creative. Beauty brings our attention into focus.
I most often recognize the presence of beauty in the intimate exchanges within my home among family, friends or partners. These moments feel impossible to explain, like the way our stories unfold across the dinner table or our bodies negotiate the space of a bed. Whether I am making work that explores how the nature of our intimate relationships affect our identities, or I am simply making things to enhance the home space itself, the intention is underpinned by the pursuit of beauty.
My interest in our lives in the domestic space has taken many forms within my studio practice. The range of work I have made includes floral still lifes, full-scale ceramic tables and beds, decorative tiles inspired by textiles, as well as hand-built vessels. For the past five years, I have primarily focused on producing the vessels.
These hand-pinched vessels are inspired by iconic forms found throughout ceramic history. I started making the vessel forms for the pure pleasure of using the material. The coiled and pinched forms came from a self-imposed assignment to make something using only a few tools. My hope was that the finished piece would reflect my skill and control of the material while acknowledging the limitations and idiosyncrasies of my hands and body. My goal is to create forms that explore volume, proportion and shapes which are generous, stable, strong and soft in character.
I began making the work for this exhibition in the middle of the Covid related ‘shelter in place’ order and the upheaval incited by the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. Frankly, it was a strange time to make things. My creative thought process was regularly interrupted by my preoccupation with the events of the day. In an effort to find a feeling of centeredness through working, I began making large sphere forms. Technically, these forms are challenging to make. In order to articulate a full, continuous curve, they require the attention of my eye and the sensitivity of my hand to the material. The process is intimate and meditative. It felt good to make something full and soft during this time – something that invites touch. It felt good to make a form so essential, so familiar as a sphere.
I have found these objects move into the world and into people’s homes with ease. As a full-time studio artist, it is important that the work finds an audience in the marketplace in order to sustain my practice. I enjoy a practice where I can move from one body of work to another, always with the intention of making something beautiful.