The Truth in our bodies: Reflections Sonya Clark’s Work

Some time ago, I was introduced to the work of Sonya Clark. It encapsulates the truth, which resides in our bodies. Hair, for example, contains information about our biology that we often neglect or forget. Our predispositions, if you believe they exist are engrained in every part of the body. Clark explores hair in such a way that brings her understanding and experiences to everyone (not just African-American men and women). One of the many reasons I love Clark’s work is in large part due to use of the body and the tools we use to maintain our bodies. The Combs Series evokes how something so simple and trivial can reflect complexities and intricacies of beauty and self-care. Clark’s utilization of simple materials to create visual complexity contrasts how combs are often seen as cheap, plastic, low quality tools used simply to groom unruliness.

Clark notes on her site, when talking about her projects entailing use of human hair,

“Deep with each strand, the vestiges of our roots resound. In this work hair is formed into markers of chronology, wisdom, and adornment”.

Much of her work resonates with me because in the past few years, I’ve had probably close to a dozen different hairstyles in the past couple of years. Co-workers even rumored that I had shaved my head, which is far from the truth. I merely had an extremely short pixie hairstyle someone misspoke and interpreted as a shaved head. In any case, it dawned on me the importance people hold on hair and beauty. Some women allow such an external characteristic to define their femininity. Yet, Clark doesn’t (only) re-make and re-interpret her body to create beautiful pieces of sculptural work. She believes in showcasing how the body itself can serve as a medium. She profoundly sculpts the truth in our bodies within her work.

Please visit her site here

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Author: Dorothy R. Santos

Dorothy R. Santos is a writer, editor, curator, and educator whose research areas and interests include new media and digital art, activism, artificial intelligence, networked culture, and biotechnology. Born and raised in San Francisco, California, she holds Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of San Francisco, and received her Master’s degree in Visual and Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts. She is currently the managing editor for Hyphen magazine. Her work appears in art21, Art Practical, Daily Serving, Rhizome, Hyperallergic, and Public Art Dialogue. She has lectured and spoken at the De Young museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Stanford University, School of Visual Arts, and more. Her essay “Materiality to Machines: Manufacturing the Organic and Hypotheses for Future Imaginings,” has been published to The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture in 2016. She serves as executive staff for the Bay Area Society for Art & Activism, board member for the SOMArts Cultural Center, and teaches at the University of California, Santa Cruz in the Digital Art and New Media department.

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