Sonya Clark

The Hair Craft Project

In the Collection of The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Purchase a Hair Craft Project Catalog Here!

Hairdressers are my heroes. The poetry and politics of Black hair care specialists are central to my work as an artist and educator. Rooted in a rich legacy, their hands embody an ability to map a head with a comb and manipulate the fiber we grow into complex form. These artists have mastered a craft impossible for me to take for granted.

Almost two decades ago, in a review of my work, Bill Gaskins wrote, “Hairdressing is the primordial fiber art.” I began the Hair Craft Project with his words in mind.
The project bridges boundaries between hair salons and art galleries as sites of aesthetics, craft, skill, improvisation, and commerce. Hairdressers were each supplied with my full head of hair and a canvas hand stitched with silk thread. Their challenge was to demonstrate their expertise in a familiar medium, hair, and translate it into a less familiar one, thread on canvas. For the yearlong span of the project, I became a walking gallery. The photographs document the temporary hairstyles created specifically for the project while the canvases provide a permanent example of the craft.

Featured stylists: Kamala Bhagat, Dionne James Eggleston, Marsha Johnson, Chaunda King, Anita Hill Moses, Nasirah Muhammad, Jameika and Jasmine Pollard, Ingrid Riley, Ife Robinson, Natasha Superville, and Jamilah Williams.

Sonya Clark

“Clark’s authentic obsession springs in part from the potent, multisensory memories of having her hair combed and braided as a child”

—Ashley Kistler
Director, Anderson Gallery