“Sonya Clark: Tatter, Bristle, and Mend”

Italiano (Italian)

National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) di Washington, DC
Beginning 3 marzo 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.

SONYA CLARK, “Cotton to Hair,” 2009 (bronze, human hair, and cotton, 14 ½ x 12 ½ x 5 inches). | National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, © Sonya Clark. Photo by Lee Stalsworth

Introducing the “Tatter, Bristle, and Mend” exhibition, NMWA explained how hair and cloth have informed Clark’s practice:

    • Hair: Because it emanates from the body, hair is sometimes considered taboo as an art-making material. Hair’s connection to the individual body, however, is precisely why Clark embraces it as the most essential textile fiber available to her. A strand of hair possesses a person’s whole DNA sequence, standing in for the physical body as well as an extended genealogy.…

Recognizing the meaning encoded in hair, the artist considers how material culture reifies that sense of self. Her work responds to the legacy of hair culture, evolving hair and race politics, and notions of “good hair” and “bad hair.”

Cloth: Drawing on the rich complexity of her heritage, with a Jamaican mother, Trinidadian father and Scottish great-grandfather, Clark has a unique vantage point on American identity and craft. Her interest in textiles extends in part from her maternal grandmother (a tailor) and her own study of textiles in art school.

“Textiles have a lot of power,” Clark has said. “You might not know how something is woven or knit or the structure, but you know something of cloth, and cloth is surrounding you all the time.” CT

Source of the article and photos:  and

Sonya Clark website:

“Sonya Clark: Monumental Cloth, The Flag We Should Know” documents the exhibition the artist developed during her residency at The Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia. An earlier publication, “The Beaded Prayers Project,” was released in 2013. In addition, the artist references the publications that have been produced about her work on her website.