Allana Clarke multimedia artworks in North Carolina

 SECCA (North Carolina Museum of Art, Winston-Salem) presents Tender, an exhibition of sculptures by Trinidadian-American artist Allana Clarke, on view June 19 through September 15, 2024. An opening reception with the artist and curator will be held Wednesday, June 19, from 6pm to 8pm. Admission is free and open to the public.

The visceral performance art and sensual sculptures of Detroit-based artist Allana Clarke (b. 1987) embody a profound interest in conveying the lived narratives of Black women within the African diaspora. Her deliberate choice of materials, such as 30-second hair bonding glue and cocoa butter, form part of a conceptual effort to rethink familiar material and reshape history.

Born in Trinidad and Tobago and growing up in Queens, New York, Clarke became the first in her family to attend college. Her fine-art education was markedly shaped by Black visionaries like artists Jules Allen and Deborah Jack. Through their introduction and from Clarke’s self-motivation, she discovered artists like sculptor Maren Hassinger and interdisciplinary artist Adrian Piper, who share a similar interest in conceptualizing the body.

Originally a photographer, Clarke slips between several mediums to disclose the conflicted, inherited, and politicized histories of materials associated with Black culture.

“My work contends with the complexity of my articulation as a subject,” Clarke elaborates, adding that by investigating herself and these materials, she unravels “a presence intertwined with shame, violence, and generational trauma.”

Motivated by a desire to heal and “an insistence upon freedom,” Clarke produces art envisioning tomorrow, where bodies are not constrained by prevailing structures.

In this exhibition, Clarke’s sculptures, including her largest hair-bonding glue sculpture to date, call attention to the multifaceted layers of language while engaging and interrogating the principle of controlling one’s body. At a moment of distinct polarization, Clarke invites viewers to surpass their subjectivity and engage in the tender act of looking and listening.

Artist Allana Clarke.
Artist Allana Clarke. Photo by Tim Johnson. © Allana Clarke, courtesy of Zander Galerie, Cologne.


SECCA (North Carolina Museum of Art, Winston-Salem), an affiliate of the North Carolina Museum of Art and division of the NC Department of Natural & Cultural Resources since 2007, offers a front row seat to the art of our time through exhibitions, experiences, and education programs with a focus on regional working artists. Founded in 1956 and located on the scenic James G. Hanes estate in Winston-Salem, SECCA offers unique large-scale indoor and outdoor settings for exploring the intersections of contemporary art and culture.

SECCA is located at 750 Marguerite Drive in Winston-Salem. Recent exhibiting artists include Basil Kincaid, Neka King, William Downs, Raj Bunnag, Lakea Shepard, Beverly McIver, Kara Walker, Elizabeth Alexander, Esteban Cabeza de Baca, and David Gilbert.

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