Sonya Clark:
Distinguished Alumni Lecture Series

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Tuesday, March 28, 6:00 p.m.
The Art Institute of Chicago, Rubloff Auditorium
230 S. Columbus Dr.

Sonya Clark’s (BFA 1993) artwork and projects trace connections between hair and textiles, communities and commodities, and radicalized identities. Her works invoke ancestral ties, recall historical legacies, and address contemporary relationships through crafted materials, found objects, and collaborative actions. As an African American artist, she uses craft as a means to honor her lineage and expand notions of both Americanness and art. As an initial point of departure, Clark instinctively reaches to ordinary things—a comb, a cloth, or a strand of hair—that connect to her personal narrative in order to unravel complex issues. She manipulates materials in a formal manner to engage the viewer in conversation about collective meaning. A visual vocabulary forms facets of language ranging from the vernacular to the political to the poetic. In this way, she illustrates that the everyday “thing” becomes the lens through which we may better see one another.

Clark has exhibited her work in more than 300 museums and galleries in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Americas. She is the recipient of several awards including Anonymous Was a Woman Award; Art Prize Grand Jurors co-prize; Pollock-Krasner Grant; Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship; Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Fellowship, Italy; BAU Camargo Fellowship, France; Red Gate Residency, China; Civitella Ranieri Residency, Italy; 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art; United States Artists Fellowship; and an Art Matters Grant. Her work is in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC; Indianapolis Museum of Art; Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond; and the Musées d'Angers, France among several other institutions.

Presented in partnership with SAIC’s Office of Alumni Relations

Sonya Clark’s website

“Artist Defies Rednecks and Unravels the Confederate Flag – Let’s Hope it’s for the Good,” Artnet, by Brian Boucher

“Artist Asks How Far We’ve Really Progressed in the 150 Years Since the Civil War,” The Huffington Post, by Priscilla Frank

“Sonya Clark—Coiffed, Tangled: “The Hair Craft Project,” Michigan Quarterly Review, by Robert Sparrow Jones

“A conversation with Sonya Clark, who tells stories through coiffured canvases,” Art+Design, by Kelundra Smith


Sonya Clark, Afro Abe, 2008-2012, series of 44, five-dollar bill and thread Sonya Clark, Black Hair Flag, 2010, collection of the VMFA, canvas, paint and thread Sonya Clark, Interwoven, 2016, woven American and Confederate Battle Flag and history books Sonya Clark, Hair Craft Project (Jamilah), 2014, photograph, collection of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Sonya Clark. Photo: Diego Valdez