Alum Sonya Clark Weaves the Fabric of America Together

For the past three decades, alum Sonya Clark (BFA 1993) has been steadily deconstructing, weaving, and reimagining flags—what they are and what they symbolize. The New York Times Style Magazine recently featured Clark's contributions to art, which address historical and contemporary racial violence.

Clark's time at SAIC was very influential, and she cites Stephanie and Bill Sick Professor of Fashion, Body and Garment Nick Cave as a mentor. "In his class, I felt like I had oxygen in my lungs for the first time," she said. Over the years, she's experimented with the flag's form. Her MFA thesis at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, Gele Kente Flag, was a woman's headwrap, combining the American flag with Ghanaian kente cloth. This hybrid nature is at the heart of all of her Flags series, challenging the multiple—and often conflicting—perspectives on a flag's inherent value. In her 2015 piece, Unraveling, Clark asked viewers to pull a Confederate flag apart string by string while engaging in conversation about the feelings exposed by this action.

Her most recent addition to the series is These days. This country. This history, which depicts the tattered remains of American and Confederate flags interwoven together. "Racism is not just a Southern problem," Clark said. "It's an everywhere problem."