Fiber artist Sonya Clark (Amherst College, Class of 1989) finds her medium particularly evocative both formally and historically. As Clark explains, “Pitchy Patchy was created to celebrate the legacy of the Yoruba ancestral masquerade, the Egungun, and its retention in Jamaican culture as ‘Pitchy Patchy.’” While studying at Amherst College, Clark took courses with Professor Rowland Abiodun, and worked closely with the Mead’s collection of Yoruba art, including textiles.
Sonya Clark (Amherst College, Class of 1989) sees her work as a vehicle that enables her to:
". . . strengthen the tether to my African heritage, not to return to the past, but to better understand my place in the present. The Yoruba of Nigeria have a saying, 'The head wrap is only good when it fits.' I make symbolic headdresses that are acknowledgements of the sanctity, power and history of my African heritage. That which is carried on the head is often indicative of what is within the head. The head is a sacred place, the center where cultural influences are absorbed, siphoned and retained, and the site where we process the world through the senses. The sculptural headdresses I create are metaphorical funnels for the fluidity of cultural heritage and cultural melding.
"As a medium, fiber permits me to claim my place in the African textile continuum that was brought to the Western Hemisphere during transatlantic slavery and continually re-embodies itself today in the African American quilt-making tradition, African Caribbean carnivals and the work of many contemporary artists.
Pitchy Patchy was created to celebrate the legacy of the Yoruba ancestral masquerade, the Egunugun, and its retention in Jamaican culture as 'Pitchy Patchy.'"
African American; costume; textile fabrics; ancestors; religion; festivals; hairstyles
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