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Please be advised that Telfair Museums recognizes the Savannah Safe Pledge and the reinstatement of the Savannah/Chatham County mask mandate. Masks are required for visitors and staff at all three of our museum sites.

Savannah and Chatham County residents can see it free during Oct. 16 Free Family Day

 

SAVANNAH, GA (October 5, 2021) — A large fabric canopy draped overhead and spanning an entire museum gallery greets visitors to Sonya Clark: Finding Freedom, which opened Oct. 1 at the Jepson Center.

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 16, Savannah and Chatham County residents can view the exhibition free as part of Telfair Museums’ Free Family Day at the Jepson Center. They can also see Heavy is the Crown, a newly opened exhibition by the artist Noel W Anderson.

Photograph courtesy of Deb Grove, Franklin & Marshall College Staff Photographer

Telfair’s presentation of the immersive installation by Clark, an artist and Amherst College professor, offers a celestial viewpoint that encourages viewers to consider freedom-seeking enslaved individuals whose forced labor built America’s wealth. Draped as if a night sky overhead, the large-scale canopy is pieced together from cyanotype reactive fabric squares made with the help of workshop participants over the course of Clark’s various residencies.

Often under cover of night with bounty hunters at their heels, enslaved individuals seeking freedom 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 in the early to mid-19th century used to escape from states, such as Georgia, that sanctioned slavery, into Northern states and Canada.

On Sept. 30, Clark delivered Telfair’s free, annual Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence Lecture to a full crowd at the Jepson Center, with funding provided by the Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, the City of Savannah, and the Georgia Council for the Arts.

Sonya Clark: Finding Freedom is organized by the Phillips Museum of Art at Franklin and Marshall College in collaboration with Telfair Museums and is curated by Amy Moorefield. The presentation at Telfair is curated by Erin Dunn, curator of modern and contemporary art.

“Sonya Clark’s monumental textile immerses the viewer as an experiential reflection on the treacherous journey undertaken by enslaved individuals seeking freedom,” Dunn said. “The work simultaneously encourages a contemporary consideration of the evolving meaning of freedom in the face of past and present injustices.”

 

About the artist:

Headshot of Sonya Clark by Diego Valdez Photography

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.

 

About Telfair Museums:

Opened in 1886, Telfair Museums is the oldest public art museum in the South and features a world-class art collection in the heart of Savannah’s National Historic Landmark District. The museum encompasses three sites: the Jepson Center for the Arts, the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters, and the Telfair Academy. For more information visit telfair.org.