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Society 1858 Announces Sonya Clark as the 2014 Winner of the 1858 Prize

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Sonya Clark
Artist Sonya Clark

Society 1858, an auxiliary group of the Gibbes Museum of Art, is pleased to announce Sonya Clark as the 2014 winner of the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art. Awarded annually with a cash prize of $10,000, the 1858 Prize acknowledges an artist whose work demonstrates the highest level of artistic achievement in any media, while contributing to a new understanding of art in the South. This year, over 250 artists from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia submitted applications. Clark is the first female artist to be awarded the 1858 Prize. Her work examines contemporary issues of gender and race through a variety of mediums.

“Sonya Clark is a phenomenal artist whose intellectual rigor and thoughtful approach to materials stands out from the crowd. Her work truly embodies the spirit of the 1858 Prize and its mission to contribute to a new understanding of contemporary southern art,” says Gibbes Museum Curator of Exhibitions, Pam Wall.

Clark holds an MFA (Cranbrook Academy of Art), a BFA (Art Institute of Chicago), and a BA in psychology (Amherst College) and chairs the Department of Craft/Material Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. Her work has been exhibited in over 250 museums and galleries in Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, Australia, and throughout the United States. She uses objects such as cloth, hair, and combs to give voice to the complexity of American identity and history. Simple objects become an interface for dialog that ranges from the vernacular to the political to the poetic.  Her work includes a variety of mediums. In “My Hair Craft Project (Jamilah)” she engages Southern hairdressers to use her body as canvas to re-frame Black hairdressing as art.

Black Hair Flag by Sonya Clark
Black Hair Flag by Sonya Clark

“Given the calibre of the finalists, I am absolutely humbled to be chosen for the 1858 Award. The complexities and the simplicities that drive the content of my work will be amplified by this generous support. I am both buoyed by this endorsement of my past work and eager to delve into the well of the next possibilities. To the folks in Society 1858 at the Gibbes Museum: thank you, thank you, thank you,” says Sonya Clark.

 

1858 Unveiling Party
Sonya Clark with finalist Jim Arendt and his wife (and 7 week old baby!) at the Unveiling Party

Clark came to Charleston for the Unveiling Party on Thursday evening to speak to a sold-out crowd of over 150 attendees at the Vendue. She spoke to Adam Parker, Arts Editor of the Post and Courier and said ” Always I am fueled by curiosity in the ways we are uniquely individual and yet inherently connected.” read the rest of her interview here.

Clark’s work is on view  at Crystal Bridges Museum as part of the State of the Art, Discovering American Art Now exhibition that opened September 13 and runs through January 19, 2015.

Unveiling Party photo by Carolina Photosmith

Published September 19, 2014

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