An interview with textile artist Sonya Clark, whose exhibit at the Walters Art Museum shows sculptures made of human hair.
Do you run your hands happily through your lover’s hair, but cringe when you find one of their hairs on your pillow or in a dish they have prepared for you? Do you spend hundreds of dollars on fancy salons and designer gels and shampoos to achieve that "just rolled out of bed" look? Do you agonize over hair that is thinning as it you older? Is your hair more important to you than you might like to admit?
These are just a few of the tensions that textile artist Sonya Clark’s work is evocative of. Her new exhibit at the Walters Art Museum, "Loose Stands, Tight Knots" is full of pieces she made using her own hair and in some cases, the hair of others. As a black woman, she is well aware of the complicated and fascinating role that hair plays in the African American community. She’s also using her work to reflect on the history of her parents and grandparents, who were also craftspeople.
Sonya sat down with Marc Steiner for an interview about the role hair has played in her life, why she chooses to use it as her medium, and what her art says about human experience.
Below are some pictures of Sonya Clark’s work that are currently being exhibited at the Walters Art Museum. The exhibit will be open until September 21st. Enjoy the podcast and the exhibit!
Links for further learning:
- Sonya Clarke’s website
- Combing the history of black hair from the Terrance Say’s blog
- Farai Chideya talks with photographer Michael Cunningham and writer George Alexander about their new book, Queens: Portraits of Black Women and Their Fabulous Hair.