Sonya Clark: Finding Freedom consists of a large-scale canopy quilted together from cyanotype reactive fabric squares that were made with the help of workshop participants over the course of Clark’s various residencies. Draped as a night sky overhead, the work offers a celestial viewpoint that encourages us to consider freedom seeking enslaved individuals whose forced labor built the wealth of this nation. Often under cover of night with bounty hunters at their heels, they used the constellations like the Big Dipper to orient their way North along the Underground Railroad—a network of people, safe houses, and clandestine routes used by enslaved people in the early to mid-19th century to escape from states, such as Georgia, that sanctioned slavery, into Northern states and Canada. This consideration of history can be expanded to the present day as visitors question what finding freedom truly means in a world that continues to grapple with the traumas of the past as they persist in our present.
About the Artist:
Sonya Clark is a Professor of Art and the History of Art at Amherst College in Massachusetts and was a Distinguished Research Fellow in the School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University. She earned an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art, a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a BA from Amherst College where she also received an honorary doctorate in 2015. Her work has been exhibited in more than 400 museums and galleries in the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe, and Australia. She is the recipient of a United States Artist Fellowship, a Pollock-Krasner Foundation award, an 1858 Prize, and an Anonymous Was a Woman Award.
Sonya Clark: Finding Freedom is part of Telfair Museums’ Legacy of Slavery in Savannah Initiative, a multiyear project which engages local Savannahians, artist, scholars, and activists to consider how the legacies of slavery still manifest in our city. This exhibition is organized by the Phillips Museum of Art at Franklin & Marshall College in collaboration with Telfair Museums and is curated by Amy Moorefield. The presentation of this exhibition at Telfair Museums is curated by Erin Dunn, associate curator of modern and contemporary art.
Annual exhibition support provided by Director’s Circle Council Members:
Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson
Mr. and Mrs. Dale C. Critz, Jr.
Mr. and Mrs. Dale C. Critz, Sr.
Alice and Bob Jepson
Mr. and Mrs. Theodore J. Kleisner
Mr. and Mrs. Robert M. Levy
Mr. and Mrs. Angus C. Littlejohn
Wilson and Linda Fisk Morris
Dave and Sylvaine Neises
Thomas V. and Susan G. Reilly
Cathy and Philip Solomons
Pamela L. and Peter S. Voss
Don and Cindy Waters
Ms. Susan Willetts and Mr. Alan K. Pritz
|Gloria and Durwood Almkuist
Leda Chong and Kevin Dewalt
Lindsay and Brent Harlander
Mr. and Mrs. Patrick J. Haynes III
Mr. and Mrs. Charles A. Hinnant
Mr. and MRs. Doug Johnston
Mr. and Mrs. Myron Kaminsky
Kelley and Josh Keller
Mrs. Robert O. Levitt
Linda and Tom McWhorter
Mr. and Mrs. J. Herbert Ogden, Jr.
Mr. and Mrs. David E. Paddison
Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Rabinowitz
Ms. Swann Seiler
Randall and Valerie Stolt