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Sonya Yong James: The Eye of a Needle

January 14 – March 19, 2022

Inside the Arts LIVE gallery talk: February 17 from 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

“Cloth and fiber can sometimes hold the gift of memory. Textile art can provoke a desire to touch, thus awakening multiple senses at once. Color and texture can be heard like a sound while the desire to experience art by physically touching it is using the eyes of the skin.” - Sonya Yong James

Repurposed cloth and thread are the mediums of choice for artist Sonya Yong James who works with these materials to examine the intersection of our shared cultural mythologies and domesticity. She meticulously manipulates the materials, combining techniques like weaving, knitting, spinning, dyeing, felting animal hair and sewing, juxtaposing these with ceramic and found objects. Her wall sculptures move beyond traditional story telling woven into textile arts such as quilts, creating new environments that explore the roles that sexuality, memory, and death play in the development of our personal relationships. What do your eyes tell you to smell? If you could touch the work, what do you think you would feel? Can you almost hear something from your memories? Our sensory experiences often directly tie to past experiences and relationships with an object, shape, or texture evoking emotion or memory. Loose yourself within this installation, and you might find the influence that textiles hold in our collective memories, and the power a needle and thread have in what they create.

Sonya Yong James lives and works in Atlanta, Georgia. She received a BFA in Printmaking from Georgia State University where she focused on etching and sculpture. She was the recipient of the Artadia Award in 2019 and the Idea Capital Antinori grant in 2021. James has exhibited in galleries and museums such as the Zeitgeist Gallery, Nashville; Whitespace Gallery, Atlanta; Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia; Atlanta Contemporary; Ogden Museum of Southern Art; Albany Museum of Art, Albany, GA; and the Zuckerman Museum of Art; Kennesaw, GA. She was formally a resident at the Studio Artists Program at Atlanta Contemporary and is represented by Whitespace Gallery.

Sonya Yong James, "I KNOW A SONG OF THE COLORS WHERE I LIVE, DOES IT KNOW A SONG OF ME?," 2019 (detail), Hand-dyed wool felt, handspun yarn, hand-dyed yarn, silk, horsehair, cotton rope, paint, gourds, feathers, red headed parrot finch and mixed media. 144 x 50 x 12 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Thank you to our UAB Visual and Performing Arts members and all supporters - without you this exhibition and programming would not be possible.

Installation View