Monumental

Media - 2022.13 - SAAM-2022.13_1 - 146150
Copied Sonya Clark, Monumental, 2019, woven linen with madder dye and tea stain, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the American Women’s History Initiative Acquisitions Pool, administered by the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative, the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment, and the Kenneth R. Trapp Acquisition Fund, 2022.13, © 2019, Sonya Y.S. Clark

Artwork Details

Title
Monumental
Artist
Date
2019
Dimensions
185 × 375 in. (469.9 × 952.5 cm)
Copyright
© 2019, Sonya Y.S. Clark
Credit Line
Museum purchase through the American Women’s History Initiative Acquisitions Pool, administered by the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative, the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment, and the Kenneth R. Trapp Acquisition Fund
Mediums
Mediums Description
woven linen with madder dye and tea stain
Classifications
Keywords
  • Abstract
Object Number
2022.13

Artwork Description

Sonya Clark weaves stories that celebrate Blackness while interrogating the historical roots of racial injustice in the United States. Monumental was inspired by objects in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. During a visit to the museum, Clark discovered the white dishtowel waved at Appomattox Court House in 1865 to signal the Confederate army’s surrender in the American Civil War. It made her wonder, “What if this flag of truce was the flag we knew, instead of the Confederate battle flag?” Clark set out to create a monumental version of the symbol. The scale and presentation intentionally reference the Star-Spangled Banner, another iconic object in the National Museum of American History’s collection.
In the aftermath of the Civil War, the paths toward emancipation and reconstruction were violent. The legacy of slavery—the core issue of the Civil War—continues to trouble the political, cultural, and social landscape into this present moment. Monumental holds the self-evident truths of American history in its humble threads and offers a different perspective: “Imagine if each time we reached for the dishcloth by our sinks, we recalled the war waged by yesteryear’s enemies of the country and their surrender,” reflects Clark. “Are we creating the future we desire through what we do, how we are, and what we make?”
This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World, 2022

 

Exhibitions

Quilt featuring the portrait of a woman
This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World
May 13, 2022April 2, 2023
This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World showcases the dynamic landscape of American craft today. The exhibition highlights the role that artists play in our world to spark essential conversations, stories of resilience, and methods of activism—showing us a more relational and empathetic world. It centers more expansive definitions and acknowledgments of often-overlooked histories and contributions of women, people of color, and other marginalized communities.

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