Finding Freedom and Solidarity Book Project with Sonya Clark & Indigo Arts Alliance

Finding Freedom and Solidarity Book Project with Sonya Clark & Indigo Arts Alliance
  • Sonya Clark with Indigo Arts Alliance & Southern Maine Women's Reentry Center

Date: July 31, 2021 11:00 am

Indigo Arts Alliance extended an in-person invitation to Southern Maine Women’s ReEntry Center (SMWRC) for a special workshop with Indigo Arts Alliance’s 2021 Summer Mentor Artist in Resident, Sonya Clark, as a part of the Freedom & Captivity statewide initiative. Based on exploring and promoting abolitionist visions and organizing in Maine during fall 2021, the women from the SMWRC participated in two workshops; Finding Freedom and Solidarity Book Project. 

For the first part of the workshop; participants created fabric cyanotype prints that mimic the starry night to pay homage to self-emancipating Africans who used the stars to navigate their way to freedom. This work displays the power of collaboration in creating spaces for social justice as the finished prints were incorporated into Clark’s installation, Finding Freedom, which opened at the Telfair Museum on October 1st and is on view now through January 17th, 2022.

Sonya Clark: Finding Freedom (October 1, 2021-January 17, 2022) consists of a large-scale canopy quilted together from cyanotype reactive fabric squares and seeds draped as if a night sky overhead. Finding Freedom will offer a celestial viewpoint that encourages visitors to consider those who sought freedom along the Underground Railroad–a network of people, safe houses, and clandestine routes used by enslaved people in the early to mid-19th century to escape from states that sanctioned slavery, such as Georgia, into free states and Canada–using the constellations to orient themselves. This consideration of history can be expanded to the present day as visitors are urged to question what finding freedom means to people in today’s world, which is still greatly affected by the legacies of the traumas of the past.

For the second part of the workshop; participants sculptured solidarity fist as a part of the Solidarity Book Project workshop. The project was a call to center Amherst College’s Bicentennial celebration on creating a more equitable future. By pushing against legacies of settler colonialism and anti-Black racism, this workshop spoke to the power of books to create spaces for social justice. 

Participants sculpted the iconic solidarity fist into Chanda Prescod-Weinstein’s book, The Disordered Cosmos. As a monument to solidarity, workshop attendees’ book sculptures could by choice be included in the Solidarity Book Project exhibition at Amherst College’s Library in August – December 2021. For every book submitted, Amherst provided a matching grant of $200. The funds raised from this project will benefit nonprofits serving the educational needs of Black and Indigenous communities, but the only way to qualify was to submit your finished book for the exhibition. 

This two-part workshop occurred on Saturday, July 31st, 2021. A visual-video recap is available below.