Art Exhibition – Sonya Clark: Confederate, surrender





Mixografia is honored to announce Confederate, surrender (2022), a new edition by Sonya Clark. Mixografia presents the edition in conjunction with an art exhibition of works by the artist at Mixografia (1419 East Adams Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90011). Confederate, surrender opens on Saturday, May 14 from 3pm – 6pm PST. Mixografia also celebrates the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s recent acquisition of Clark’s Monumental, which will be featured in the upcoming SAAM art exhibition The Present Moment opening at the Renwick Gallery on May 13 from 10:30am – 3pm EDT.

Clark’s edition is the latest in a body of work reflecting on the Confederate Flag of Truce, the portion of a hand-woven kitchen towel used to signal the Confederate Army’s truce leading up to its surrender at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. Among Clark’s earliest explorations of this subject is Monumental, a larger-than-life recreation of the truce flag originally made in collaboration with The Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia for her 2019 art exhibition Monumental Cloth, The Flag We Should Know. Measuring 15 x 30 feet, the humble dishcloth here stands as the paramount and lasting symbol of the Civil War; it towers over the rhetorical violence that is synonymous with the battle flag. Clark considers the textile’s makeup to the closest detail, its waffle-weave structure, its red-striped hem, its fringed edge – there is as much history in its craft as in its symbolic purpose. It is fundamentally the product of handiwork, a common household item that now and forever signifies a promise of peace.

In Confederate, surrender, Clark depicts the same artifact at its true scale, draped over the end of a timber pole. Here rendered as a three-dimensional print on handmade paper, Clark sets the scene on a Spring afternoon in Virginia; the flag waves gently against a tranquil sky. There’s a sense of stillness in the air, a thunderous pause and an unfamiliar silence. Paintings, sketches, and journals recounting this day all depict enemies meeting amidst the din of combat to stem the violent tide, before which there seemed no end but in the bloodshed that had become commonplace. Clark shifts the focus to this frozen instant between war and peace, a hazy uncertainty emerging from the settling dust of battle. All that is known of what lies ahead is the turbulent reckoning that boils over from a nation’s deep injustices.

In elevating the truce flag, Clark creates a monument to this moment. She presents a memory of the war’s end, the last gasp of a beleaguered Confederacy facing defeat, marked by a red-striped kitchen towel carrying all the symbolic weight of progress. While this final surrender may seem to signal the closing refrain of a violent and destructive worldview, it is clear now that these scars predate and live on long past one fateful afternoon at a courthouse west of Richmond. The roots of the war are not only the years of conflict, but the ideological soil upon which it is fought. With Confederate, surrender, Clark reconciles the constant struggle of freedom; it is a living monument, with the wounds of the past written in its weave. Raised up high over a nation forever grappling with its ruptures, this weathered dishcloth serves as a monument larger and more enduring than any statue.

Sonya Clark is Winifred L Arms Professor of Art and Humanities at Amherst College in Massachusetts. Previously, she was a Distinguished Research Fellow in the School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University where she served as chair for the Craft/ Material Studies Department for over a decade. She earned an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art and was honored with their Distinguished Alumni Award. She has a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her first college degree is from Amherst College where she also received an honorary doctorate. In 2021, she was awarded two additional honorary doctorates: one from Franklin and Marshall College and the other from Maine College of Art. Her work has been exhibited in over 450 museums and galleries in the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia. She has made work alongside creative individuals at the Red Gate Residency in China, the BAU Carmago Residency in France, the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Residency in Italy, the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, the Civitella Ranieri Residency in Italy, the Yaddo Residency, the Affiliate Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome, and the Black Rock Senegal Residency Fellowship. Her work has been in several publications and news organizations including the New York Times, Sculpture, Art in America, Philadelphia Inquirer, Time Magazine, Los Angeles Times, Hyperallergic, Mother Jones, Huffington Post, ArtForum, PBS, NPR, BBC and many others.

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