Urgent Museum Notice

Sonya Clark: Tatter, Bristle, and Mend

U.S. five-dollar bill has an embroidered afro and sideburns stitched onto the portrait of Lincoln’s head. One-third of the afro protrudes beyond the top of the bill.
Mar 03 to May 31, 2021

Textile and social practice artist Sonya Clark (b. 1967) is renowned for her mixed-media works that address race and visibility, explore Blackness, and reimagine history. This exhibition—the first survey of Clark’s 25-year career—includes the artist’s well-known sculptures made from black pocket combs, human hair, and thread as well as works made from flags, currency, beads, sugar, cotton plants, pencils, books, a typewriter, and a hair salon chair. The artist transmutes each of these everyday objects through her application of a vast range of fiber-art techniques: Clark weaves, stitches, folds, braids, dyes, pulls, twists, presses, snips, or ties within each work. By stitching black thread cornrows and Bantu knots onto fabrics, rolling human hair into necklaces, and stringing a violin bow with a dreadlock, Clark manifests ancestral bonds and reasserts the Black presence in histories from which it has been pointedly omitted.

A circular wreath made of tightly coiled hair with strands escaping.

Sonya Clark, Hair Wreath, 2012; Human hair and wire, 13 x 13 x 2 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of The Tony Podesta Collection, Washington DC; © Sonya Clark; Photo by Lee Stalsworth