“Both Sides Now” an effective statement on racial issues

Joyce J. Scott and Sonya Clark made a statement on racial injustice, politics and media through their new art exhibit, “Both Sides Now,” held at 108 Contemporary across the street from the Guthrie Green. Both artists use multiple materials such as hair, thread, beadwork, glass, etc. There are several controversial illustrations of racism, integration and the Confederacy. The art of Scott and Clark is symbolically integrated throughout the exhibit.
Beginning with a few of Scott’s pieces: “Lynched Tree,” “Scorned, He implodes ed. 19/20” and “Ancestry/Progeny I & II” are truly iconic.
“Lynched Tree” shows a nude white woman hung by her ankles. The beadwork piece is monstrous, nearly a height of nine feet. She hangs from the ceiling and her body is contorted as she reaches the ground. Her body is surrounded by several beads and glass sculptures of tiny black women.
“Scorned” is a framed piece of a phantom-like figure with a small gun holstered at its hip and a large gun in its hands. The larger gun is pointed toward a red boy that appears to be drowning in a sea of eyes. I interpreted this as a stance on modern media and news, specifically the black lives matter protest and police brutality.
“Ancestry/Progeny I & II” are two glass mixed media pieces. Number one is a colorful mosaic with a small head-and-shoulders statue of a black women poking out of the top. She has a chain around her neck that dangles downward connecting a photo of an older black women: representing family. Number two also is a colorful mosaic with a small oval picture of Jesus and a dangling key. There is also a large drawing of an eye. This magnifies the importance of family, spirituality and self awareness within a culture.
Next, Sonya Clark’s work has similar themes. A few focal pieces are “Blacked and Bleached,” “Hair Bow of Sounding the Ancestors” and “Rebel Yell.”
In her piece “Blackened and Bleached,” two confederate flags, one hung on the wall and one laid gently onto the floor, are tattered and damaged. The one on the wall is black while the other is white, portraying the white and black sides of the Confederacy.
“Hair Bow of Sounding the Ancestors” is two violin bows strung with blonde and dark curly hair. It includes an audio of clip of someone playing several different American tunes such as “Star Spangled Banner,” “America the Beautiful” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing” on a violin.
Lastly, “Rebel Yell” is very unusual. It is a tiny rollercoaster about half a foot high and three to four feet long. It also includes an audio clip which sounds like people enjoying their ride on a rollercoaster. At the exhibit, I questioned if this work was included in “Both Sides Now;” it seemed so out of place. I later learned that those yells weren’t people enjoying a rollercoaster ride, they were Confederate Soldiers yelling in war. The similarity is uncanny and I had to listen a second time to digest what I was actually hearing.
Overall, this exhibit touches on subjects I’ve never given much thought. Clark and Scott diversely demonstrate several ideas on black culture from the early American times to the present day. This revealed the incivility black people continue to take from prejudice and hate. It’s a true eye opener to the viciousness of black treatment.

Post Author: Cheyanne Wheat