“No matter her materials, Clark ‘braids’ and ‘twists’ associations, creating works with a distinctly emotional tensile strength.”
~ Leah Ollman,Art critic, L.A. Times
Born in 1957 into a family of professionals and creatives, it was natural that Sonya Clark would be both. Descending from industrious parents of Caribbean descent, in “Artist Sonya Clark ’89 uses Hair to Communicate Black History” by Katherine Jamieson for Amherst Magazine, Clark recalls her initial encounter in creating.
In the article, she recounts, “… her first memory of making art is decorating a freshly painted wall in her parents’ Washington, D.C. home at 4 years old. Outraged screams from her mother ended her illicit scribbling, but she talked her way out of certain punishment by explaining the logic behind her misbehavior: she was enjoying the pull of pencil against flat paint, the physical experience of creation … ‘I learned that if you can bring someone to the experience of art, you might be able to change her perspective.’”
This childhood incident would be fortuitous in laying, personally and professionally, the foundation for Sonya Clark. A bright student, she excelled at Sidwell Friends School, from which she graduated in 1985. Clark also earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Amherst College in 1989
While at Amherst, she was greatly inspired by Rowland Abiodun, who is the John C. Newton Professor of Art, the History of Art and Black Studies. Initially, she had no intention to select becoming a professional artist as an option for a career. However, Abiodun and his work, especially surrounding Yoruba culture, piqued her interest. This was most significant, as she connected West African roots to her own ancestral ties.