featured project

Sophia Wallace, Swan Series

Project Team Members (Powerhouse Arts Staff): Biata Roytburd, Eleni Kontos

project overview

In January of 2022, Sophia Wallace commissioned Powerhouse Arts to create Swan Series, described by the artist as “an open edition of cast sculptures in stoneware and terracotta which takes inspiration from the natural world, specifically swans in motion, budding orchids and emerging succulents. It is the latest of Wallace’s ongoing project to invent an iconography of the clitoridian” and can best be described as a work of contemporary feminist art.

The fabrication of this edition involved working closely with the artist to sculpt a prototype reflective of her vision for the series. This prototype was used to create molds for slip casting in both stoneware and terracotta clays. The fabricators formulated custom glazes in aqua, light pink, light aqua, and black opal to create colors derived from the natural world as envisioned by the artist. Each piece in the edition was cast, hand finished, and glazed. 

Beyond the fabrication process itself, the collaboration gracefully navigated unique circumstances. The project arose in the midst of ongoing challenges associated with the COVID-19 public health crisis in 2021 and also Wallace’s first year of motherhood.

The project was partially funded by a grant from the Crave Foundation, awarded to the artist for her contribution to intimate justice. 

The sculptures were featured in several exhibitions including Spring Break Art Fair New York, The Sensing Woman at C24 Gallery, and CLITERACY: The Art of Intimate Justice at CVPA Gallery on the UMass Dartmouth campus. 

The Swan Series is also featured in a PBS docu series featuring artists in the pandemic

and a TED Talk entitled “A Case for Cliteracy.” The sculptures have been made available for sale through yescliteracy.com.

artist biography

Sophia Wallace is an interdisciplinary artist working at the intersection of bodies and ethics. She holds a BA in Political Science from Smith College and an MA in Photography from New York University & The International Center of Photography. Best known for her viral project CLITERACY, Wallace is interested in the ways that people assigned female at birth and trans women are denied self-determination through the weaponization of their genitals. Drawing upon diverse materials and approaches, including large text, sculpture, installation and performance, Wallace’s art seeks to establish the clitoris in visual representation; a vital part of our understanding of the body. Her work is shown widely in the US and internationally including Spain, Austria, Mexico, Italy, Nigeria, Australia and the UK. Exhibitions of Wallace’s art have been held at Sotheby’s, Kunsthalle Wien Museum, Samek Art Museum, Leslie-Lohman Museum, Aperture Gallery, Taschen Gallery, Blueproject Foundation, and Newspace Center of Photography among others. Her works are in the permanent collections of Agnes Scott College, The Leslie-Lohman Museum and The Vescom Collection. Critical recognition of Wallace’s work on gendered body knowledge includes The New York Times, The Atlantic, PBS, ARTE, The Guardian, Art in America, Teen Vogue, New Yorker, Time, VICE, and Wallpaper among others. Her TED featured talk, ‘A Case For Cliteracy’ has been viewed 1.9 million times while her interactive collaboration with Huffington Post, ‘The Overdue, Under-told Story of the Clitoris’, received 3.5 million views and was translated in 3 languages. Wallace has been honored with the Griffin Museum’s Critic’s Pick Award, and PDN’s Curator Award. She was a 2012 recipient of the Van Lier Fellowship, and a 2019 “Artist On Our Radar” with Creative Capital. She was a 2019 Artist in Residence at the Project For Empty Space Feminist Incubator and an Artist in Residence at Vermont Studio Center. She is a 2020 inaugural grantee of the Crave Foundation. Most recently, she can be seen in the multi-award winning documentary film The Dilemma of Desire available on most streaming platforms.