The Taubman Museum of Art is pleased to present a major solo exhibition on African-American multimedia artist Sonya Clark (American, Born 1967). Throughout her career, Clark’s work has featured hair and combs in the place of more traditional fibers and art making materials. She uses them to speak meaningfully about cultural heritage, gender, beauty standards, race, and identity while transforming hair accouterments into sculptural objects. Preoccupied with the texture, styling and politics of black hair, Clark’s personal connection to the comb began like that of nearly every young girl, squirming on a chair while an adult armed with a comb and good intentions attempted to bring order to the disorder on her head. Clark states, “Hairdressers are my heroes. The poetry and politics of Black hair care specialists are central to my work.” Through Clark’s new works, site-specific installations, and performances created for the museum, her exhibition explores hair as an indicator of race, social status, a symbol of age and authority, a statement of contemporary style, an object of beauty, and adornment.
Sonya Clark holds an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art, a BFA from the Art Institute of Chicago and a BA in psychology from Amherst College. Since 2006, Clark has been chair of the Craft/Material Studies Department in the School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. Clark's work has been exhibited in over 300 museums and galleries in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and throughout the Americas. Her work is in the collection of many museums including the Boston Museum of Fine Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Memphis Brooks Museum.
Clark has received several awards including a United States Artists Fellowship, the Pollock-Krasner Award, a Rockefeller Foundation Residency in Italy, a Red Gate Residency in China, an 1858 Award for Contemporary Southern Art from the Gibbes Museum, the recipient of the 2014 ArtPrize and the Juried Grand Prize co-winner, and a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship.
Follicular: The Hair Stories of Sonya Clark is curated by Amy G. Moorefield, Deputy Director of Exhibitions and Collections at the Taubman Museum of Art. Exhibition and Education Program Support is provided in part by the City of Roanoke through its Arts Commission. It will be on view from October 1, 2016 through May 14, 2017 in the Contemporary Gallery.