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Sonya Clark Wins $10K 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art

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r1206-clrkSonya Clark has won the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art, given by the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, South Carolina. Over 250 artists applied for the $10,000 prize.

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Using hair, beads, plastic combs, and other materials, Clark makes works that often reference African American hairdressing traditions. Her work is currently on view in “State of the Art” at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas (as is that of 2008 winner Jeff Whetstone), and in “Brides of Anansi: Fiber and Contemporary Art” at the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art [through December 6],  and was included in the museum’s 2012 exhibition “Material Girls: Contemporary Black Women Artists.”

She is the first woman to win the award, which was established in 2007 by Elizabeth and Mallory Factor “to honor an artist whose work contributes to a new understanding of the South.” The other shortlisted artists were Jim Arendt, Andre Leon Gray, Jackson Martin, Jason Mitcham, Damian Stamer, and StacyLynn Waddell.

Born in Washington, D.C., Clark holds a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. She is chair of the craft and material studies department at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

Sonya Clark, Albers #1, 2013; cotton thread, combs.
Sonya Clark, Albers #1, 2013; cotton thread, combs.
Sonya Clark, black hair flag, 2010; cloth and thread.
Sonya Clark, black hair flag, 2010; cloth and thread.
Sonya Clark, from the "hair project" series, documenting hairdressers' styles.
Sonya Clark, from the “hair project” series, documenting hairdressers’ styles.