Hand stamped bricks, human hair, and glass, steel base
39 x 72 x 15 in. (99.1 x 182.9 x 38.1 cm)
Sonya Clark describes Edifice and Mortar as a wall, a flag, and a document that asks us to consider a fundamental question: who laid the foundations of the United States of America?
Each brick is hand-stamped with a traditional maker’s mark and a word. Together the recto forms an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence. The lines of text are interspersed with mortar made from African American hair gathered from Richmond salons—the hair of people whose ancestors might have been legally enslaved and whose life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were cut out of Jefferson’s 1776 Declaration. The viscerally charged pointing is meant to represent “black people who are at once held under the weight of the system, but who are also holding this country together.”
The brick stamps display the word Schiavo, which is the origin of the commonly used Italian greeting Ciao. Translated into English, the word Schiavo means SLAVE.
The blue panel is intentionally placed at an angle to reflect the viewer, making each of us a part of the work.
Edifice and Mortar extends Clark’s ongoing material and conceptual reworking of icons of America’s racially divided past and present.