Visiting Artists Coming to the Gibbes
With temperatures going up and scaffolding coming down, it is clear that the reopening of the Gibbes on May 28th is fast approaching. During my second semester as an intern at the Gibbes, I have been given the opportunity to see a lot of projects develop and cannot wait to see them come to life this spring. One of the projects I have been most excited about is the Visiting Artist program that will have a home in the Museum’s new first floor studios. Not only will the Visiting Artist program give the community opportunities to interact with the artists, but the series will be a great way to intersperse contemporary art into Charleston’s understanding of art in the South. The first visiting artist will be Sonya Clark, the 2014 winner of the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Soutnern Art, who will be in the studio from May 28–June 2.
Clark’s is known for her unique choices in media including beads, combs, and human hair. Her work not only addresses issues such as race, culture, class, and history but also aims to make a personal connection to viewers. During her time in Charleston, she will bring to the Gibbes an interactive project called “Pluck and Grow.” This installation is a collaborative piece between Clark and Museum visitors. Clark uses hair as metaphor for what connects us as humans, separates us into racial groups, and makes us individuals. The artist invites people to write their “hair stories” on a piece of paper—whether that be a poem, a story, or a drawing. The paper will be dyed in varying shades of black, brown, and blonde to give the appearance of human hair and Clark will twist and insert them into “follicles” drilled into a surface, referencing a human head. Once on display, Clark invites viewers to pluck a strand, read the story, and replace it with their own hair story on a slip of white paper. As these new stories replace the original ones, the piece will take on the appearance of aging—as real human hair would.
This installation piece will provide a great opportunity for visitors to engage with the artist, and I think it is a perfect way to introduce the Visiting Artist program at the Gibbes. I know that Sonya Clark isn’t the only amazing artist they have lined up—painter Jill Hooper will be in the studio immediately following Clark as she prepares for a large-scale fresco in Jerusalem, Israel. I am so excited for what the future of this program holds!
—Valerie Coughlin, College of Charleston intern and guest blogger
Published March 18, 2016