Tatter, Bristle, and Mend Reading List

Blog Category:  Library and Research Center
A paperback copy of Ralph Ellison's novel 'Invisible Man' sits on a white surface. The book features black text and short, green, vertical lines on a white background. Atop the book is a book-like shape comprising black beads.

Sonya Clark: Tatter, Bristle, and Mend, currently on view at NMWA, is the first survey of the textile artist’s 25-year career. In 100 mixed-media sculptures, Clark engages ideas on African diasporic identity, American history, the history of language, visions of the future, and more.

Curious about the context that informs Clark’s art? NMWA’s Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center (LRC) has selected works of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction for further reading, drawing on Clark’s own book collection.

Read on for a snapshot of a few of those works, visit the LRC to browse these titles in person on the red Tatter, Bristle, and Mend cart, and check out the Museum Shop to purchase select titles for yourself!

A tower of colorful hardback and paperback books on a white vertical bookshelf against wood and white walls.
Clark’s studio bookshelf; Photo by Nicholas Calcott for the New York Times

Found Sonnet: The Wig” by Rita Dove

In this poem, the former U.S. Poet Laureate captures the overwhelming set of wig choices one might find in a beauty parlor in a light-hearted way. This sonnet resonated with Clark and spurred a collaborative project between the artist and poet that involved the creation of a special font inspired by clippings of Clark’s hair called “Twist.”

Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone (2010) by Eduardo Galeano

Galeano, the venerated Uruguayan chronicler of Latin American histories and author of Open Veins of Latin America (1971), offers 600 tiny tales of world history that challenge mainstream narratives.

The History of White People (2011) by Nell Painter

This volume by Painter, a historian and artist, focuses on the history of the social construct of race. NMWA’s Tatter, Bristle, and Mend exhibition catalogue includes an interview between Painter and Clark.

Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred (2021) by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

A Black feminist theoretical physicist takes on race, gender, class, nationality and disability, and the manifestations of oppressive ideologies in science.

Other Key Works:

The Teeth of the Comb (2016) by Osama Alomar

James Baldwin: The Last Interview and Other Conversations (2014) Edited by Quincy Troupe

The Water Dancer (2019) by Ta-Nehisi Coates

How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems 19752001 (2004) by Joy Harjo

All About Love (2018) by bell hooks

negroland (2016) by Margo Jefferson

The Resisters (2020) by Gish Jen

This is Major: Notes on Diana Ross, Dark Girls, and Being Dope (2020) by Shayla Lawson

The Selected Works of Audre Lorde (2020) by Audre Lorde

Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History (1986) by Sidney W. Mintz

The Bluest Eye (2007) by Toni Morrison

Magical Negro (2019) by Morgan Parker

Breathe: A Letter to My Sons (2019) by Imani Perry

Citizen: An American Lyric (2014) by Claudia Rankine

Heads of Colored People (2018) by Nafissa Thompson-Spires

Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature (1986) by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

The Nickel Boys (2019) by Colson Whitehead

Black Futures (2020) edited by Jenna Wortham and Kimberly Drew

Solidarity Book Project

A medium-skinned woman wearing a blue and yellow head wrap smiles at the camera and holds up a book vertically. In the pages a solidarity first has been carved.
Clark showcases one of her solidarity books; Photo courtesy of Amherst College

An outgrowth of Clark’s love of books, her Solidarity Book Project invites the public to share influential books that have shaped their understanding of oppression and resistance. Also a community art project, Clark encourages participants to sculpt the solidarity fist into the pages of books that have shaped their understanding of solidarity. Learn more and participate!

Related Posts