ExhibitionsSonya Clark: We Are Each Other
Past Exhibition

Sonya Clark: We Are Each Other

October 27, 2023 – February 18, 2024



Members and Museum Pass: Free
Not-Yet-Members: $18.50

For thirty years, multidisciplinary artist Sonya Clark has focused her work on the African diaspora in the United States to confront, elucidate, and reframe its history. Within her practice, she often undertakes this exploration through everyday fiber materials—most notably hair, flags, found fabric—and craft practices. In her work, craft and community are intertwined; her participatory projects promote new collective encounters across racial, gender, and socioeconomic divisions. Sonya Clark: We Are Each Other is a major traveling exhibition focused on the artist’s community-centric and participatory projects.

Through her work, Clark asks us to acknowledge our individual responsibility to the collective whole and to consider such questions as, “How do we address and challenge our shared colonial past, and how do we hold ourselves accountable for and claim agency in what happens next in the future of our society?” We Are Each Other is both a declaration and an invitation, a battle cry and an embrace.

The exhibition is co-organized by the High, the Cranbrook Art Museum in metro Detroit, and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.

All works of art are by Sonya Clark (American, born 1967) unless otherwise noted.

“I was born in Washington DC to a psychiatrist from Trinidad and a nurse from Jamaica. I gained an appreciation for craft and the value of the handmade from my maternal grandmother who was a professional tailor. Many of my family members taught me the value of a well-told story and so it is that I value the stories held in objects.”

—Sonya Clark

The Beaded Prayers Project, 1998–ongoing 

Cloth, thread, and beads
Courtesy of the artist and Mead Art Museum 

The Beaded Prayers Project (1998–ongoing) is a long-term participatory artwork that has involved more than five thousand people in dozens of countries. The project embraces the artist’s research based on the shared etymology, or linguistic history, of the words “bead” and “prayer” and the idea that collectively made amulets, which may be found throughout the world, can offer spiritual and physical protection. For over twenty-five years, this project has demonstrated that art can be a communal activity as participants create packets containing potent contents, including their hopes or prayers written on a piece of paper and encased within a covering that has at least one bead. 

Two visitors stand in a large gallery space looking a Sonya Clark's Beaded Prayers installation

The High Museum of Art is offering Beaded Prayers workshops open to the public and free of charge. In addition to the dates listed, the High will be engaging with a variety of community partners, including school groups and senior centers, to reach a wide range of audiences to participate in this project.

Beaded Prayers activations are open to the public on the following days:
Saturday, November 4, 11 a.m.–2 p.m.
Friday, November 10, 6–9 p.m. during Oasis
Saturday, December 2, 11 a.m.–2 p.m.
Saturday, January 6, 11 a.m.–2 p.m.
Saturday, February 3, 11 a.m.–2 p.m.


The Hair Craft Project: Hairstyles on Canvas, 2013 

Silk threads, beads, shells, and yarn on canvas

From left to right, top to bottom:
Ife Robinson 
Chaunda King 
Ingrid Riley 
Dionne James Eggleston 
Nasirah Muhammad 
Kamala Bhagat 
Jasmine and Jameika Pollard 
Anita Hill-Moses 
Natasha Superville 
Marsha Johnson 
Jamilah Williams 
Unbraided canvas 

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Heritage Fund for a Diverse Collection, Frederick Brown Fund, Samuel Putnam Avery Fund, and Helen and Alice Colburn Fund

Hair Craft Project Hairstyles On Canvas. Photo Grid O3

The Hair Craft Project: Hairstylists with Sonya, 2014

Pigment prints on archival paper

From left to right, top to bottom:
Chaunda King
Marsha Johnson
Jasmine and Jameika Pollard
Ife Robinson
Ingrid Riley
Kamala Bhagat
Anita Hill-Moses
Dionne James Eggleston
Natasha Superville
Nasirah Muhammad
Jamilah Williams
Sonya Clark

Courtesy of the artist

The Hair Craft Project features a collaboration between the artist and Black hairstylists, who practice their own form of artistry; Clark claims them as fellow textile artists and has noted that the first textile art form was hairdressing. Using her own head as a canvas, she worked with the stylists to break down the barrier between hair salons and art institutions as sites of craft, skill, improvisation, aesthetics, and commerce. Each resulting hair design was photographed and is paired with a complementary textile panel created by the stylists on canvas.

Hair Craft Project Hairstylists With Sonya. Photo Grid O3

Solidarity Book Project

Solidarity Book Project was conceived as a collaboration with Amherst College, where Clark teaches. She asked her local community and global participants to think about issues of oppression and activism through the material form of the book and the clenched fist of solidarity related to Black liberation. Participants reflected on books that taught them about solidarity and used a template with instructions to, through a laborious process, carefully sculpt the iconic symbol into the pages of the book. “This artwork acknowledges the power of books to shape thought and the physicality of books to shape symbols,” states Clark.

Clark wants participants to think about the work of solidarity and to practice what liberation can feel like through art. To participate, access the project website below, where you can download instructions and a template to create a sculptural book as a keepsake, or bring your copy to the museum to add it to the artist’s project.

Solidarity Book Project

Detail Of Solidarity Book Project O3

Madam C. J. Walker, 2008

Plastic combs
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, purchase through the generosity of Marilyn D. Johnson; Beverly Dale; Buckingham Foundation, Inc.; Jeanne and Michael Klein; Fredericka and David Middleton; H-E-B; Joseph and Tam Hawkins; Carmel and Gregory Fenves; The National Council of Negro Women (Austin Section); Lone Star (TX) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated; Town Lake (TX) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated; National Society of Black Engineers—Austin Professionals; Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce; National Black MBA Association Austin Chapter; and other donors

This work pays homage to America’s first female self-made millionaire, a complex figure who came from the cotton fields of the South to create her own business, an empire of Black hair-care products. To create Madam C. J. Walker’s portrait, Clark used over three thousand fine-toothed combs, which she contends are gendered and point to Walker negotiating a man’s world. Clark chose to commemorate this figure, who used her wealth and status to advocate for antilynching campaigns. Despite not being able to vote—as a woman and as a Black person—Walker used her prosperity for activism and empowered other women to run businesses.

Madam C.j. Walker O3

Reconstruction Exercise, 2019

Floor loom, bench, and linen

Reconstruction Exercise invites visitors to cumulatively weave, with the aid of an assistant, a new truce flag. In the act of weaving and rubbing (elsewhere in the galleries), participants become actors in Clark’s reparative narrative to give agency to all who choose to collectively counter the propaganda of hate with an act that celebrates a new way forward.

Visitors will have the opportunity to activate and participate on Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m. during the run of the exhibition (excluding December 23, 2023).


Many, 2019  

Woven linen and madder dye
Courtesy of the artist

Many amplifies Clark’s message by replicating the size of the original Confederate truce flag one hundred times. Unlike its tea-stained and madder root–dyed counterpart, this bright white work exudes newness, repetition, and ongoing effort. Clark hopes that the multiplied image of the flag might make an indelible impression on our collective memory for the work of reparations and racial justice in the present and into the future.

Detail Of Many O3

Unraveling (performance view), 2015

An ongoing part of Clark’s artistic practice is the community-led construction and deconstruction of historic and cultural symbols. These works are dedicated to her confrontation with the Confederate battle flag. In the Unraveling and Unraveled series, the artist undertakes the painstaking and highly metaphoric act of unraveling the flag.

Unraveling Performance View O3

Finding Freedom, 2019–2020

Finding Freedom, 2019–2020, light-sensitive cyanotype fabric, approximately 1,500 square feet, collection of the artist. Installation view at Phillips Museum of Art, Franklin & Marshall College.Photo by Deb Grove.

Finding Freedom is inspired by the history of the Underground Railroad when celestial navigation helped guide enslaved peoples in the United States northward toward freedom. This project is an immersive, participatory installation with a room-sized canopy that recalls a starry night sky. Clark created the monumental quilt-like textile in collaboration with students, researchers, friends, and a group of incarcerated men; this methodology draws on African and African American textile traditions, including the collaborative quilting practices of Black women.

Finding Freedom With Visitors O3

This exhibition is co-organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, MI; and the Museum of Arts and Design, New York.

This exhibition is curated by Monica Obniski, Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the High Museum of Art; Laura Mott, Chief Curator, Cranbrook Art Museum; and Elissa Auther, Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs and William and Mildred Lasdon Chief Curator, the Museum of Arts and Design.

Major funding for this exhibition is provided by William Banks Jr. Trust.

Premier Exhibition Series Sponsor 

Premier Exhibition Series Supporters

ACT Foundation, Inc.
William N. Banks, Jr.
Cousins Foundation
Burton M. Gold
Sarah and Jim Kennedy

Benefactor Exhibition Series Supporters 

Robin and Hilton Howell

Ambassador Exhibition Series Supporters

Mrs. Fay S. Howell/The Howell Fund
Karen and Jeb Hughes/Corporate Environments
Loomis Charitable Foundation
The Fred and Rita Richman Fund
Louise Sams and Jerome Grilhot
Mrs. Harriet H. Warren
Elizabeth and Chris Willett

Contributing Exhibition Series Supporters 

Farideh and Al Azadi
Sandra and Dan Baldwin
Mr. Joseph H. Boland, Jr.
Mr. and Mrs. Robin E. Delmer
Peggy Foreman
Mr. and Mrs. Baxter Jones
Joel Knox and Joan Marmo
Margot and Danny McCaul
Wade A. Rakes II and Nicholas Miller
USI Insurance Services

Generous support is also provided by  

Alfred and Adele Davis Exhibition Endowment Fund, Anne Cox Chambers Exhibition Fund, Barbara Stewart Exhibition Fund, Dorothy Smith Hopkins Exhibition Endowment Fund, Eleanor McDonald Storza Exhibition Endowment Fund, The Fay and Barrett Howell Exhibition Fund, Forward Arts Foundation Exhibition Endowment Fund, Helen S. Lanier Endowment Fund, John H. and Wilhelmina D. Harland Exhibition Endowment Fund, Katherine Murphy Riley Special Exhibition Endowment Fund, Margaretta Taylor Exhibition Fund, RJR Nabisco Exhibition Endowment Fund, and Waymaker Media.

The exhibition and catalogue are also supported by the Henry Luce Foundation.

Support for the exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design was provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.