Something that always troubles me – and it has troubled me for as long as I can remember – is this idea of misinformation that causes people to do bad things. We can go back to World War II, we can look at the 1990s and the Balkan Wars. Emotionally, these drive me very much, this idea of how the Balkans split apart. I’m very interested in that time. And then look at America post 9/11 with this whole anti-Muslim movement and this complete misinformation. And it’s not necessarily because somebody thought, “I’m going to be evil and go out and lie.” They really believe what they are saying, and the people listening to them want to believe what they’re hearing. So this idea that the Quran is all about terror and violence makes me go like, “Wait. Look at the Old Testament. Look at Deuteronomy. It says you can stone your wife.” Our religious texts in the Western world are extremely violent, as well.
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.