BMA installation of Beaded Prayers Project
BMA installation of Beaded Prayers Project

Community invited to participate in international collaborative art project

BALTIMORE, MD (September 12, 2003) —View uniquely and boldly decorated cloth packets containing the wishes and dreams of more than 4,500 individuals—including residents of Baltimore—in The Beaded Prayers Project, an international collaborative art project inspired by traditional African amulets. On display at The Baltimore Museum of Art from November 12, 2003, through February 29, 2004, each beaded prayer contains the hopes of someone who wrote their dream on a slip of paper and enclosed it in a small swatch of fabric, sealing it with thread and embellishing it with beads. Several workshops will be held throughout the exhibition to allow museum visitors and community members to contribute their own beaded prayers to the project.

“This community art project resonates with the BMA’s philosophy to engage its visitors in programs that foster self-discovery through encounters with works of art,” said Allison Perkins, BMA Deputy Director of Education and Interpretation and co-curator of the exhibition.

This eclectic display, which will completely cover the walls of two galleries with a patchwork of color, celebrates the role of both the individual and the importance of one’s place in the community. The cross-cultural significance of beading and amulets will also be explored through a small display of objects from the museum’s collection, including a never-before-exhibited West African hunter’s amulet shirt.

Begun in 1999 by Baltimore fiber artist Sonya Clark, The Beaded Prayers Project has grown into an international effort with beaded prayers being made by participants ages 6 to 90 from 35 countries. Baltimore residents will have an opportunity to join the project on Sunday, November 16, at 1 p.m. when Clark presents a lecture on the significance of beadwork and amulets in various world cultures. A workshop will follow where participants will learn basic beading techniques and have an opportunity to create two beaded prayers, one to keep and the other to contribute to the project.

The Beaded Prayers Project is cocurated by Allison Perkins, BMA Deputy Director of Education and Interpretation, and Anita Jones, BMA Associate Curator of Decorative Arts for Textiles. Sonya Clark, Professor of Textile Design at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is the project director.

Sonya Clark
Baltimore fiber artist Sonya Clark is a Professor of Textile Design in the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her training includes a Master’s in Fine Arts from Cranbrook Academy of Art, a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts from the Art Institute of Chicago, and a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Amherst College. She has taught at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Philadelphia University, and Tyler School of Art and exhibited in more than 100 solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally. The Beaded Prayers Project is Clark’s way of extending herself into the community, connecting with people through art outside of her own studio work, and creating an artwork that belongs equally to all of its participants.


Lecture and Workshop with Sonya Clark
Sunday, November 16
Lecture, 1 p.m.; Workshop, 2:30-4 p.m.
FREE with Museum Admission.

Discover amulet traditions from the African diaspora and throughout the world in a slide lecture by Sonya Clark, director of The Beaded Prayers Project. Her talk will be followed by a hands-on workshop where participants will learn basic beading techniques and create two beaded prayers—one to keep and one to contribute to the ongoing exhibition.

Gallery Talk and Workshop
Sunday, November 30
Gallery Talk, 1 p.m.; Workshop, 2-4 p.m.
FREE with Museum Admission

Explore The Beaded Prayers Project and its connections to objects in the Museum’s collection during a gallery talk led by Angélique Weger, University of the Arts Master’s degree candidate. A hands-on workshop will follow where participants will learn basic beading techniques and create two beaded prayers—one to keep and one to contribute to the ongoing exhibition.

Free First Thursday
Thursday, February 5, 5-8 p.m.

Enjoy free admission all day, then take advantage of extended evening hours filled with fun! View The Beaded Prayers Project and then create a pair of beaded prayers in a hands-on workshop for all ages. Discover details of the BMA collections in an evening of tours focusing on the connections to the exhibition and the cultural heritage of African Americans.

About the Baltimore Museum of Art

Founded in 1914, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) inspires people of all ages and backgrounds through exhibitions, programs, and collections that tell an expansive story of art—challenging long-held narratives and embracing new voices. Our outstanding collection of more than 97,000 objects spans many eras and cultures and includes the world’s largest public holding of works by Henri Matisse; one of the nation’s finest collections of prints, drawings, and photographs; and a rapidly growing number of works by contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds. The museum is also distinguished by a neoclassical building designed by American architect John Russell Pope and two beautifully landscaped gardens featuring an array of modern and contemporary sculpture. The BMA is located three miles north of the Inner Harbor, adjacent to the main campus of Johns Hopkins University, and has a community branch at Lexington Market. General admission is free so that everyone can enjoy the power of art.

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Baltimore Museum of Art
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