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String Theory

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

Works by Candace Hicks

On view October 6 - November 25, 2023


TranSystems Corporation Gallery

Artist Statement

These hand-embroidered pages confront the existential possibilities of the blank page. The size, format, and color palette of notebook paper, they are familiar and warped at the same time. From across the room, they appear as flat, linear designs, but upon closer inspection reveal themselves to be delicately textured. I’ve collected coincidences for ten years. It started when I read two books in a row that both included the phrase “antique dental instrument.” While that was not the first coincidence I ever noticed in my reading, that singular instance convinced me to keep a record. I began to consider that the phrase might have been the profound masquerading as the mundane. Or not. But I wanted to collect the data. I cataloged my coincidences in composition books that filled rapidly. As it turned out, “antique dental instrument” has not held any special meaning in my life or my art. Neither have any of the coincidental phrases that followed, such as “stuffed mountain lion” or “black currant lozenge,” but the act of noticing them became the lens through which I filter the world and my experiences. As an ardent reader, I naturally gravitate toward creating books and printing. And taking note of coincidences is akin to the kind of observation a landscape or portrait artist practices. Thus, my observations take the form of hand-stitched texts that I call Common Threads. Sewing every line, letter, and illustration in the books enhances their status as objects. By laboring over a dime store composition book, painstakingly recreating it by hand, I have found a way to express the insignificant as potentially philosophical. Just as a landscape or portrait painter’s observations allow them to reproduce a version of reality, my scrutiny of repetition creates a narrative that navigates fictional universes. This most recent series focuses on the blank pages of the notebook as optical potentialities.


Artist Bio


Candace Hicks collects coincidences from the books she reads in her artists’ books and installations. With the exhibition Read Me at Lawndale Art Center, Hicks opened the book form into a room-sized interactive installation in which viewers pieced together a puzzle of narrative to find the correct solution. The Locked Room at Living Arts in Tulsa focused on a specific genre of literature the “locked room” mystery, and visitors were tasked with the challenge to find the means of metaphorically escaping the gallery. For Many Mini Murder


Scenes at Women and Their Work, Hicks reproduced tableaux plucked from crime fiction and offered viewers the experience of playing a detective searching for clues. Her work consists of artist’s books, video, performance, printmaking and drawing. Books from her Common Threads series are in more than 80 collections around the world including, MFAH, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Boston Athenaeum, Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, Grolier Club, Harvard, Hungarian Multicultural Center, MIT, MoMA, Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna, UCLA Biomedical Library, Stanford, and Yale.


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