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Sonya Clark


B. 1967

Artist Sonya Clark is deeply influenced by her Afro-Caribbean heritage rooted in Jamaica and Trinidad, where several family members worked in craft trades as tailers, woodworkers, and furniture makers, and taught Clark the value of a well-told story held in objects. Clark, a fiber artist, is known for using mixed media to address race, culture, class, and history. She utilizes craft media to honor her lineage and expand notions of art and Americanness. When unraveling complex issues, Clark is drawn to ordinary objects: a comb, a strand of hair, cloth, or even a $5 bill. Inherently charged with agency, these objects have the mysterious ability to reflect us as we strive to find collective meaning. Clark states, “I trust that my stories, your stories, our stories collectively are held in the object. The everyday “thing” becomes a lens through which we may better see one another.”

Her piece in Cultural Currency, Afro Abe II, depicts President Abraham Lincoln donning the hair of those he helped to emancipate, as Clark described to Bedford Gallery. Clark further elaborated that she crowned Lincoln with an afro stating, “By adding this symbol of Black liberation, the 100 years between the Emancipation and Civil Rights era, the 1860s to 1960s, are collapsed. The first in this series of works was made before Obama’s election as a kind of prayer that he would be elected. Hair as prayer, so to speak. I hoped that by crowning the 16th president with the power of an afro, this nation might find itself prepared to embrace blackness in all its glory. I made 44 of these to honor the 44th United States president.”

Sonya Clark is a Professor of Art at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts. She earned an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art and was honored with their Distinguished Alumni Award in 2011. Clark also has a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work has been exhibited in over 350 museums and galleries in the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe, and Australia, and she has been the recipient of numerous awards, fellowships, and residencies. Her work also has been favorably reviewed in several publications, including the New York Times, Sculpture, Art in America, Time Magazine, Italian Vogue, Los Angeles Times, Hyperallergic, Mother Jones, Huffington Post, and many others.


Myrtle Beach’s Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum strives to be one of the finest visual arts museums in the Carolinas. With 11 galleries that change throughout the year, Myrtle Beach’s only art museum offers exhibitions featuring paintings, textiles, sculpture, photography, video, ceramics, assemblage, collage and more. A visit to the Art Museum’s exhibitions can be enhanced by its lively programming, including artist receptions, tours, lectures, workshops and classes for both adults and children.