Having recently finished a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship in Italy, DC native Sonya Clark is back in the District with a solo exhibition of new work at Contemporary Wing. “AHEAD OF HAIR“ addresses issues of race, class and culture by using hair as a deeply personal medium.
Recently, ArtSee sat down with Clark to discuss her show and the details of her work.
ArtSee: How did hair become an inspiration for you?
Sonya Clark: I’ve been craving hair since I was a child, so I’ve had an interest for a long time. In the Africa Diaspora, there is a wealth of hairstyle and it’s a type of art. In a salon, they get a weave with a needle and thread being stitched. It’s working with the fibers that we and others grow.
ArtSee: Do you use real hair?
Sonya Clark: When I first started making pieces that were about hair, I didn’t actually use human hair. I used cloth and thread to approximate hair. At first I thought it was strange to use someone’s DNA and then sell it, with the history of selling bodies in this country. But now I use hair.
ArtSee: Whose hair do you use?
Sonya Clark: I use human hair and I’m particular about whose hair I would like to use. I use my own hair and hair of very good friends. I don’t use hair from strangers who try to give it to me, and there’s hair I would never sell — like my mother’s. I’ve made pieces that honor her through her hair, but they never end up on the market.
ArtSee: Do you have a favorite work of yours in “AHEAD OF HAIR?”
Sonya Clark: The newer work is where my interest is, so the pieces where I’ve taken those modernist formal tendencies and asserted myself. I’m enjoying Albers Study and Quadroon, or White Canvas where I unraveled the threads, treated it as the cloth it is, and then wove it together. I brought together painting, art and hairdressing.
To read ArtSee’s full review of “AHEAD OF HAIR,” visit the website.
“AHEAD OF HAIR” is on display at Contemporary Wing until March 2. Contemporary Wing is located at 1412 14th Street NW. It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 am to 6 pm.
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