Sonya Clark

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Sonya Clark
Born 1967
Washington, D.C.
Nationality American, of Afro-Caribbean heritage
Education Nick Cave (performance artist)
Alma mater MFA, Cranbrook Academy of Art; BFA, Art Institute of Chicago; BA, psychology from Amherst College; Sidwell Friends School
Known for Fiber art
Movement Influenced by Yoruba art; known for works featuring hair and combs
Awards United States Artists Fellowship, Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Award, and others

Sonya Clark (born 1967, Washington, D.C.) is an American artist of Afro-Caribbean heritage. Clark is known for using a variety of materials including human hair and combs to address race, culture, class, and history. Lowery Stokes Sims, curator of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, NY wrote, "Since 2000 Sonya Clark has created startling new art featuring hair and combs. This work is a logical extension of her much-acclaimed beaded/assemblaged headdresses and assembled/braided wig series of the late 1990s that evoked African accoutrements while advancing the basic forms to new arenas of expression."


Clark was influenced by the craftspeople in her family, including a grandmother who worked as a tailor, and a grandfather who was a furniture maker.[1]


Clark holds an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art and in 2010 was honored with their first Distinguished Mid-Career Alumni Award.[2] She has a BFA from the Art Institute of Chicago where she studied under the artist Nick Cave (performance artist) and a BA in psychology from Amherst College.[3] She graduated from the Sidwell Friends School in 1985.

Professional academic career[edit]

Since 2006, Clark has been chair of the Craft/Material Studies Department [4] in the highly acclaimed School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University [5] in Richmond, VA. The department is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top in the nation. Prior to her appointment at VCU, she was Baldwin-Bascom Professor of Creative Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.[6] where she received tenure with distinction and an H.I. Romnes award.[7]

Art career[edit]

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 Indianapolis Museum of Art,[8] Delaware Art Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art and Memphis Brooks Museum.[9] Her work has been favorably reviewed in journals such as Art in America,[10] The New York Times, Sculpture,[11] Surface Design Journal, The Los Angeles Times,[12] Fiber Arts, and New American Paintings.[13]

Clark has received several awards including a United States Artists Fellowship,[14][15] Pollock-Krasner Award,[16] a Rockefeller Foundation Residency[17] in Italy, an Art Matters Grant,[18] Red Gate Residency[19] in China, a Wisconsin Arts Board Fellowship, a Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Award,[20] a Virginia Commission for the Arts Fellowship,[21] a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship[22] in Italy, an 1858 Award for Contemporary Southern Art from the Gibbes Museum,[23] the 2014 ArtPrize a Juried Grand Prize co-winner and recipient of the Juried award for Best Two-Dimensional work,[24] and a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship.

Published works[edit]

  • Haystack Monograph Series #17, 2004: Craft and Design. “Hand-me-downs: Our Stories held in Objects, Materials and Processes.”
  • Surface Design, Fall 2003. “In Review: Nick Sargent.”
  • Surface Design, Summer 2000. “Beneath Pattern: Investigating Symmetry.”
  • Ornament, Spring 1997. “Sculptural Headdresses.”


  1. ^ Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture (2011). Material Girls: Contemporary Black Women Artists (1st ed ed.). Baltimore, Md: Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture. ISBN 9780615436142. 
  2. ^ "Distinguished Mid-Career Alumni Award". 
  3. ^ "Sonya Clark '89". Amherst Magazine, Amherst College (Fall). 2010. Retrieved 2014-02-01. 
  4. ^ "VCUarts Craft / Material Studies". 2012-10-04. Retrieved 2014-02-01. 
  5. ^ "VCUarts Homepage". Retrieved 2014-02-01. 
  6. ^ "Sonya Clark". Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art. Retrieved 2014-02-01. 
  7. ^ "H.I. Romnes award". 
  8. ^ "Indianapolis Museum of Art". 
  9. ^ "Indianapolis Museum of Art". 
  10. ^ Weaver, A.M. (2012-01-30). "Sonya Clark". Art in America - Reviews. Retrieved 2014-02-01. 
  11. ^ "Reviews - Indianapolis". 21 (10). 2002-12. Retrieved 2014-02-01.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  12. ^ Ollman, Leah (2013-07-05). "Review: Physical, metaphorical fuse in work of Sonya Clark at CAFAM". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-02-01. 
  13. ^ "New American Paintings". 
  14. ^ "VCU USA fellowship". 
  15. ^ "United States Artist Fellowship". 
  16. ^ "Pollock-Krasner Award". 
  17. ^ "Rockefeller Foundation Residency". 
  18. ^ "Art Matters Grant". 
  19. ^ "Red Gate Residency". 
  20. ^ "Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Fellowship". 
  21. ^ "Virginia Commission for the Arts Fellowship". 
  22. ^ "Civitella Ranieri Fellowship". 
  23. ^
  24. ^

External links[edit]