Grantee Update: McColl Center

Arts / Article

By McColl Center for Visual Art Staff

Innovative fiber artist Sonya Clark can add McColl Center for Visual Art to her already impressive resume when she begins her residence on July 15, 2011. Born in Washington, DC to a psychiatrist from Trinidad and a  nurse from Jamaica, Clark gained an appreciate for craft and the value of the handmade primarily from her grandmother, a professional tailor.  “Many of my family members taught me the value of a well-told story and so it is that I value the stories held in object” says Clark.

Expanding fiber art’s definition by incorporating combs and human hair into her work, Clark’s works reflect her Caribbean heritage while exploring themes of beauty, race and gender. “I am instinctively drawn to things that connect to my personal narrative as a point of a departure: a comb, a piece of cloth, or a strand of hair. I wonder at how each comes to have meaning collectively. What is the history of the object? How does it function? Why is it made of a certain material? These questions and their answers direct the form, scale, and material choices in my work.“

Creative Director, Ce Scott:  “The Center is honored to receive this level of support from the Knight Foundation.  The funds awarded will help the Center continue to advance and build the Residency  program. Each Knight Foundation Artist-in-Residence will provide an innovative approach to their mediums. Sonya Clark’s work combines a variety of ordinary found objects with fibers, human hair and even US currency to create art that blurs the line between sculpture and craft.  The community will have the opportunity to see work that incorporates  various themes including race, politics, and history.”

Clark is currently the chairwoman of the Craft/Material Studies Department at Virginia Commonwealth University and received an MFA (Cranbrook Academy of Art), a BFA (Art Institute of Chicago), and a BA in psychology (Amherst College).  Her work has been exhibited in over 250 museums and galleries in Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, Australia, and throughout the USA. I have been able to pursue my studio practice because of generous honors and opportunities such as a Pollock-Krasner Award, a Rockefeller Foundation Residency in Italy, a Red Gate Residency in China, a Virginia Commission for the Arts Fellowship, a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, and a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship in Italy.