1939 in Washington, D.C.
Lives and works in Asheville, North Carolina.
M.F.A. in Visual Arts from Howard University, 1999.
M.B.A. from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, 1973.
The Skowhegan School of Art, Skowhegan, ME, Painting, Summer 1972.
B.F.A. in Visual Arts from Howard University, Washington, DC in 1972.
B.S. in Mathematics from Hampton Institute, Hampton, VA in 1961.
Clarissa Sligh is a visual artist, lecturer, and essayist. Her photo-text images, artists’ books and installations have been exhibited in places such as The Museum of Modern Art and the Jewish Museum, New York, NY, Walker Art Center and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Minneapolis, MN, The National Gallery of Art and Corcoran Gallery of Art and the National African American Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.
One’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 the 1955 school desegregation case in Virginia (Clarissa Thompson et. al. vs. Arlington County School Board). From that moment forward, her work as a student and as a professional – first in math/science working for NASA, later in business, and finally, in the arts – takes into account change, transformation and complication.
For over 30 years, Sligh has woven together the cultural, historical, personal and political to explore concepts of memory and transmutation, and perceptions of boundaries and identity: themes that have roots in her own experiences.
Her artists’ books include What’s Happening With Momma?, Women’s Studio Workshop Press, 1988, Reading Dick and Jane with Me, Visual Studies Workshop Press, 1989, Voyage(r): A Tourist Map to Japan, Nexus Press, 2000, Wrongly Bodied Two, Women’s Studio Workshop Press, 2004, It Wasn’t Little Rock, Visual Studies Workshop Press, 2005, Wrongly Bodied: Documenting Transition from Female to Male, self-published with the Leeway Foundation, 2009, The Proposal, unique, 2012, Broken?, letterpress and linoleum cuts, 2014, Dirt Under Your Feet, unique, 2015, Transforming Hate: An Artist’s Book, self-published, 2016 .
Sligh’s most recent awards were 2016 grants from Art Saves Lives, the Shlenker Block Fund of the Houston Jewish Community Foundation, and the Blue Spiral 1 Gallery. Other awards include an International Center of Photography Annual Infinity Award (1995) and fellowships from Anonymous Was a Woman (2001), the National Endowment for the Arts (1988), the New York Foundation for the Arts in artist’s books (2005) and in photography (1988 and 2000).
Sligh was co-founder, in 1988 of “Coast to Coast National Women Artists of Color Projects”, which traveled exhibitions nationally through 1996. She has worked with organizations including the National Women’s Caucus for Art (1985 to 1994), the Artists Federal Credit Union, New York, (1986 to 1987), Printed Matter (1992 to 1996), the Artists’ Advisory Board of the Women’s Studio Workshop (2004 to 2007), the Artist Advisory Committee, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, (2004 to 2008), and the Penland School of Crafts, (2007 to 2015).
Transforming Hate – a project consisting of origami crane sculptures, photographic narratives, workshops for “at-risk” teenagers, and artists’ books.