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Sonya Clark: Hair/Craft


October 31, 2022 - March 12, 2023

Location: Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery

Two Black women, the one of the left looking at the camera, the one on the right looking away

The Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery presents the exhibition Sonya Clark: Hair/Craft, on display from October 31 through March 12.

Sonya Clark is a multidisciplinary artist whose work explores issues of identity, race, cultural heritage, and collective memory. This exhibition presents five works in which Clark applies fiber-art techniques to the medium of hair, a material laden with cultural and metaphorical significance. In these works, strands of hair represent ancestral bonds, hairstyles connote intimacy and convey Black visibility and identity, and combs bare teeth to show how hair has been an instrument of political resistance across the African diaspora.

Clark interweaves her material with historical, literary, and musical allusions ranging from the biography of Madam C. J. Walker, the first female self-made millionaire, whose wealth derived from her business selling hair care products to Black women, to the hymn “Life Every Voice and Sing,” known as the unofficial Black National Anthem. Engaging craft traditions, Clark unravels the narrative threads that bind issues of contemporary importance to the past and refashions potent cultural symbols from everyday objects.

Sonya Clark is Professor of Art at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts. Previously, she was a Distinguished Research Fellow in the School of the Arts and Commonwealth Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) where she served as chair of the Craft/Material Studies Department from 2006 until 2017. In 2016, she was awarded a university-wide VCU Distinguished Scholars Award. Her work has been exhibited in over 350 museum and galleries in the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia. She is the recipient of a United States Artists Fellowship, a Pollock Krasner award, an 1858 Prize, an Art Prize Grand Jurors Award, and an Anonymous Was a Woman Award. Most recently, she was an inaugural recipient of the Black Rock Senegal Residency Fellowship.

Public Program

On Thursday, November 3 at 4 p.m., Sonya Clark will deliver the annual Daphne Harrison Lecture, presented by the Humanities Forum. Admission to this event is free.

This exhibition was made possible in collaboration with Goya Contemporary Gallery and Sonya Clark.

Visitor Information

Admission is free. For complete driving and parking information, please visit here.

Library Gallery hours:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Thursday: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Please note: The Library Gallery will be closed from December 23 through January 2 for UMBC’s winter break.

Sonya Clark: Hair/Craft is shown concurrently with Aaron Siskind: Formations.

Image: Sonya Clark, Hair Craft Project with Dionne, 2014. Pigment print on archival paper, 29 x 29 inches. Courtesy Goya Contemporary Gallery and Sonya Clark.



October 31, 2022
March 12, 2023
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