Clarissa Sligh, creator of a range of works including several artists’ books, will deliver the annual Harwood-Cole Memorial Lecture Nov. 16 at Warren Wilson College.
Her lecture, titled “I Am a Verb in the Shadows, Walking,” begins at 4 p.m. in Canon Lounge of Gladfelter Student Center, preceded by a 3 p.m. reception featuring music by The Dixie Darlings. The event, free and open to the public, is sponsored by The Friends of the Pew Learning Center and Ellison Library.
A person’s life sometimes collides with moments in history, causing it to be altered dramatically by external change. Certainly this was so for Clarissa Thompson Sligh. When she was 15 years old she became the lead plaintiff in a 1955 school desegregation case in Virginia. From that moment forward, her work has taken into account change, transformation and complication.
Sligh is a storyteller. For more than 25 years, she has woven together social and historical events with the personal and political in installations, photographs and artists’ books. Her early work, in the 1980s, gained her recognition as an artist who unflinchingly explored ideas that often challenged traditional values. Her images and texts explore difference and crossing boundaries, themes that have roots in her own experiences.
Her artists’ books include “What’s Happening With Momma?” “Reading Dick and Jane with Me,” “Voyage(r): A Tourist Map to Japan,” “Wrongly Bodied Two,” “It Wasn’t Little Rock,” “Wrongly Bodied: Documenting Transition from Female to Male” and “The Proposal.”
Sligh’s honors and awards include the International Center of Photography Annual Infinity Award, fellowships from New York Foundation for the Arts, and grants from the Andrea Frank Foundation and the Leeway Foundation. Her images are in collections including the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester, N.Y.; The Museum of Modern Art, New York City; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Sligh’s books are in special collections including The Library of Congress, The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Boston Athenaeum and Duke University.
Sligh has taught at the International Center of Photography, New York University, the University of Pennsylvania, Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester and The School of Visual Arts in New York City. She was cofounder and national coordinator of “Coast to Coast: A Women of Color National Artists’ Book Project,” and cofounder/chair of the Loan Committee, Artists Federal Credit Union, New York.
For more information about the Nov. 16 Harwood-Cole lecture, call Liz Brace at 828-771-2012.