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In Pursuit of the Confederate Truce Flag: Monument Lab Live with Sonya Clark and Paul Farber

  • Slought 4017 Walnut Street Philadelphia, PA 19104 (map)

Join textile and social practice artist Sonya Clark in a public conversation with Artistic Director/Host Paul Farber for a live recording of the Monument Lab Podcast. Together, they will explore Clark's research informing her upcoming exhibition at The Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, Monumental Cloth, The Flag We Should Know, on view March 29 – August 4, 2019. In presenting this exhibition, Clark questions: "Why do we know the Confederate Battle Flag instead of the Confederate Truce Flag that marked surrender, brokered peace, and was a promise of reconciliation? What would it mean to the psychology of this nation if the Truce Flag replaced the flag associated with hate and white supremacy?"

Clark investigates the legacy of symbols and challenges the power of propaganda, erasures, and omissions. By making the Truce Flag into a monumental alternative to the infamous Confederate Battle Flag and its pervasive divisiveness, the exhibition instigates a role reversal and aims to correct a historical imbalance. FWM is housed in a former flag factory, a particularly fitting place to ask questions about the symbolic power cloth can hold in the consciousness of our nation. Monumental Cloth, The Flag We Should Know is a timely catalyst for dialogue about the scars of the Confederacy and America's ability to acknowledge and reckon with racial injustice.

The first fifty people to arrive will receive a keepsake from FWM as a memento of this event.

About Sonya Clark

An artist of Afro-Caribbean heritage known for addressing race, culture, class and history in her mixed-media works, Sonya Clark draws on everyday materials to investigate how we assign meaning to objects reflecting our personal and collective attitudes: “I was born in Washington, DC to a psychiatrist from Trinidad and a nurse from Jamaica. I gained an appreciation for craft and the value of the handmade primarily from my maternal grandmother who was a professional tailor. Many of my family members taught me the value of a well-told story and so it is that I value the stories held in objects.” Clark has received numerous awards, including the James Renwick Alliance Distinguished Educator Award (2018), Anonymous Was A Woman Award (2016), ArtPrize Juried Grand Prize (co-winner, 2014), Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship (2010 and 2011), and Pollock Krasner award. Her work has been exhibited in more than 350 museums and galleries throughout the world. For 12 years, Clark served as a professor and chair of the Department of Craft and Material Studies at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Richmond, Virginia. She is currently Professor of Art and the History of Art at Amherst College where she received an honorary doctorate in 2015. Deeply committed to the field of craft, Clark has also served on the board of the American Craft Council (Minneapolis, MN), Textile Museum (Washington, DC), and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts (Deer Isle, ME). Monumental Cloth, The Flag We Should Know is the culmination of the artist’s two-year residency with The Fabric Workshop and Museum. @sysclark

About The Fabric Workshop and Museum

Founded in 1977, The Fabric Workshop and Museum both makes and presents, encouraging artists to experiment with new materials and new media in a veritable living laboratory. Through its renowned Artist-in-Residence (AIR) Program, FWM collaborates with artists to expand their practices, while documenting the course of artistic production from inspiration to realization. Today, FWM is the only US institution devoted to creating work in textile and new media in collaboration with some of the most significant artists of our time. Presenting large scale exhibitions, installations, and performative works, FWM seeks to bring this spirit of artistic investigation and discovery to the wider public. In addition to complete works of art, FWM’s permanent collection also includes material research, samples, and prototypes. Serving as an educational center for Philadelphia’s youth from the outset, FWM remains dedicated to developing programs and opportunities for local students and emerging artists, advancing the role of art as catalyst for innovation and social connection. @FabricWorkshop

About Monument Lab and Paul Farber

Monument Lab is an independent public art and history studio based in Philadelphia. Founded by Paul Farber and Ken Lum, Monument Lab works with artists, students, activists, municipal agencies, and cultural institutions on exploratory approaches to public engagement and collective memory. Monument Lab cultivates and facilitates critical conversations around the past, present, and future of monuments. As a studio and curatorial team, Monument Lab pilots collaborative approaches to unearthing and reinterpreting histories. This includes citywide art exhibitions, site-specific commissions, participatory research initiatives, a national fellows program, a web bulletin and podcast, and more. The goal is to critically engage the public art we have inherited to reimagine public spaces through stories of social justice and equity. In doing so, Monument Lab aims to inform and influence the processes of public art, as well as the permanent collections of cities, museums, libraries, and open data repositories. @Monument_Lab

Paul Farber, PhD is a historian, curator, and educator from Philadelphia. He teaches courses in Fine Arts and Urban Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and also currently serves as the founding curator-in-residence of the New Arts Social Justice Initiative at Rutgers University-Newark. Farber's research explores transnational urban history, cultural memory, and aesthetic approaches to civic engagement. He is the author of A Wall of Our Own: An American History of the Berlin Wall (University of North Carolina Press, 2019). He is also the co-editor of Monument Lab: Creative Speculations for Philadelphia (Temple University Press, 2019) and of a special issue of the journal Criticism on HBO's series, The Wire (2011). He has been invited to lecture and lead workshops at the Library of Congress, New York Public Library, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Barnes Foundation. He also served as the inaugural Scholar in Residence for Mural Arts Philadelphia. His work on culture has also previously appeared in the Guardian, Museums & Social Issues, Diplomatic History, Art & the Public Sphere, Vibe, and on NPR. @Paul_Farber

Image credit: Sonya Clark, in collaboration with The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia. Woven replica of the Confederate Flag of Truce,2019. Photo credit: Carlos Avendaño.