Clarissa Sligh is one of 50 artists whose work has been selected for the Asheville Art Museum’s inaugural contemporary exhibition, Appalachia Now! An Interdisciplinary Survey of Contemporary Art in Southern Appalachia.
Billed as a “contemporary story of Appalachia,” the exhibition is comprised of works in a variety of media by artists who are living and working in the region. Works in Appalachia Now! include dance, film, new media, painting, poetry, and sculpture. The exhibit will be held in the museum’s newly expanded and renovated facility in downtown Asheville.
Clarissa Sligh makes photographic series, artists’ books, and text-based installations to explore constructions of history, identities, transformation and change. In her statement, Sligh states, “I am a black woman. I am an artist. For many years I have been creating work to bring issues of social justice into the public discourse. This book evolved from a project for which I folded origami cranes from pages of white supremacist books for the exhibition, Speaking Volumes: Transforming Hate. It was organized by the Montana Human Rights Network and the Holter Art Museum in Helena, Montana and opened in 2008.
“In Transforming Hate: An Artist’s Book, I was trying to look at what it was like for me to turn the hateful words of the white supremacist books into a beautiful art object. That exploration helped me understand more fully the many levels of oppression and violence at the intersections of race, gender, class and sexual orientation. Why do we keep each other from being who we really are? How can we begin to talk about what separates us?
“In our roles, as voyeur and as participant, we make daily decisions about who gets to have rights and who is marginalized in our society. I ask us to question our perceptions about history, reality, identity and voice. Do we have the courage to live differently?”
Sligh’s work has been exhibited in numerous venues including the Museum of Modern Art New York, the George Eastman House Rochester, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C. Sligh lives and works in Asheville, North Carolina.