Sonya Clark

Sonya Clark possesses the ability to deftly assemble works of art both beautiful in creation and weighted with content. While the materials she uses are seemingly delicate—beads, fibers, human hair, and combs—the history and associations within these manufactured and natural objects spur affecting responses and reflection.

Black Cross Worn Thin II is part of the artist’s Comb Series, in which she relates hair type to race politics. The broken teeth of the woven combs represent a struggle and create, as the artist explains, “the music of a new order.” The formal alignment of the combs recalls the warp and weft of fabric, the length and crosswise yarns that construct a weave. Currently on view in There is a Woman in Every Color: Black Women in Art, the work invites us to consider the many expectations for displaying this intimate part of the human body.

WhitewashedWhitewashed, 2017. Sonya Clark (born 1967). White house paint, 43 1/4 x 82 inches. Delaware Art Museum, F. V. du Pont Acquisition Fund in honor of David Pollack, 2023. © Sonya Clark.

Recently installed in the Lynn Herrick Gallery for contemporary art, Clark’s Whitewashed is painted directly onto the gallery wall. Visually subtle, the work engages the viewer’s recollections of the United States flag. Whitewashed is made using three Sherwin-Williams house paint colors—Incredible White, Storyteller, and Natural Choice. The shades of white replace the red, white, and blue of the American symbol. Clark has worked with the American flag, the Confederate flag, and the Confederate Flag of Truce throughout her career. In doing so, she addresses the physical makeup of these objects and the histories, experiences, and access these symbols uncover or veil.

On Thursday, April 25, we welcome the public and university students to experience DelArt’s spring exhibitions and a keynote lecture by exhibiting artist Sonya Clark, organized in partnership with the University of Delaware. Please register online and join us for this special University Night.

Sonya Clark

Sonya Clark is Professor of Art and Winifred L. Arms Professor in the Arts and Humanities 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 where she served as chair of the Craft/Material Studies Department from 2006 until 2017. Clark has received awards from many organizations including United States Artists, Pollock-Krasner, Art Prize, and Anonymous Was a Woman. Her work has been exhibited in over 500 venues worldwide. Her first major museum survey was presented at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in DC in 2021. Sonya Clark: We Are Each Other, her current solo exhibition, opened at the Cranbrook Art Museum in June 2023, travelled to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta in October 2023, and is on view at the Museum of Arts and Design in NYC through September 22, 2024.

This event is part of a collaboration between the Delaware Art Museum and the University of Delaware to celebrate James E. Newton’s legacy as an artist, UD professor, and leader in the Delaware community. Exhibitions are on view at the Delaware Art Museum, UD’s Mechanical Hall Gallery, and UD’s Morris Library.

Margaret Winslow
Head Curator and Curator of Contemporary Art

Top: Black Cross Worn Thin II, 2012. Sonya Clark (born 1967). Plastic combs, thread, 30 x 30 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Acquisition Fund, 2012. © Sonya Clark.