Who ignited Sonya Clark’s interest in textile practices?
Clark learned to sew from her grandmother, nicknamed “Chummy,” who was a tailor. “She is the one who instilled in me the notion that through thread and needle, you can capture stories,” the artist says. In art school, Clark studied with renowned makers Nick Cave and Anne Wilson, who affirmed the power of textile methods.
Today, Clark applies her expert techniques to works honoring her expansive sources of inspiration. She has made French-knotted portraits of Abraham Lincoln, a range of comb, thread, and hair reliefs depicting entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker, colorful comb-and-thread sculptures honoring playwright and poet Ntozake Shange, and sleek beaded tributes to writer Ralph Ellison and South African Ndebele artist Esther Mahlangu.
Clark’s influences are deep and fruitful. She explains: “My good friend Bolaji Campbell shared a wonderful Yoruba proverb: ‘A river that forgets its source dries up.’”
Artists at Work Video Series: Ambreen Butt
Artwork on View
Learn More about the Artist
Textile artist Sonya Clark interweaves craft, history, and race to create mixed-media works that celebrate Blackness and address racial tensions and stereotypes.