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Sonya Clark Installation

Thursday, October 22, 2015
12:00 AM
Institute for the Humanities, 202 S. Thayer

Curator's Statement

Gallery hours: M-F 9am-5pm

In Sonya Clark, artist and 2014 ArtPrize-winner Sonya Clark exhibits existing and new work which considers the relationship between object and story, including a new work that incorporates personal stories about hair derived from student engagement at the University of Michigan and from campuses nationwide.

Artist Statement:

I use craft and materials to investigate identity. Simple objects become cultural interfaces. Through them I navigate accord and discord. When trying to unravel complex issues, I am instinctively drawn to things that connect to my personal narrative as a point of a departure: a comb, a piece of paper, or a strand of hair. Charged with agency, objects have the mysterious ability to reflect or absorb us.  I find my image, my personal story, in an object. But it is also the object’s ability to act as a rhizome, the multiple ways in which it can be discovered or read by a wide audience, that draws me in. To sustain my practice, I milk the object, its potential, its image, and its materiality. I manipulate the object in a formal manner to engage the viewer in conversation about collective meaning. Can systematically folded paper effectively use light and shadow in the same manner as an elaborately dyed cloth?  What is the connection between color studies, combs, and tapestries?  Can a strand of hair tell a life story? I trust that my stories, your stories, our stories are held in the object. In this way, the everyday “thing” becomes a lens through which we may better see one another.  A visual vocabulary derived from object and image forms a language ranging from the vernacular to the political to the poetic.

About Sonya Clark:

Since 2006 Sonya Clark has been chair of the Craft and Material Studies Department at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Richmond, Virginia. Formerly she was Baldwin-Bascom Professor of Creative Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She holds an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art and in 2011 she was awarded their first Mid-career Distinguished Alumni Award. She also holds a BFA from the Art Institute of Chicago and a BA from Amherst College and in 2015 was awarded and honorary doctorate. She is the recipient of several awards including an ArtPrize Grand Jurors co-prize in 2014, Pollock-Krasner Grant, a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Fellowship, a Civitella Ranieri Residency, an 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art, a United States Artist Fellowship, and an Art Matters Grant. Her work is in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Musees d'Angers in France among others. Her work has been exhibited in over 300 museums and galleries in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Americas and has been favorable reviewed several publications including the Los Angeles Times, Hyperallergic, and Huffington Post.