Sonia Gomes (b. 1948, Caetanópolis, Brazil) began her art career mid-life, developing a practice of sewing and tying together found and gifted objects and textiles exploring notions of memory and identity. Often incorporating wire into her constructions, Gomes produces multi-dimensional sculptural works that hang from the ceiling, reach out from the walls, or rest on the ground. This act of binding remnants of disparate cultures and materials is deeply rooted in Gomes's own story—she says, "My work is Black, it is feminine, and it is marginal. I am a rebel. I never worried about masking or stifling anything that might or might not fit standards of what is called art. I always sought nonconformity with things that are established. I had to overcome a lot of obstacles because I'm Black, because I was too old to be considered one of Brazilian art's young talents. ... My work is Brazilian."
As fabric is produced by weaving, knitting, or otherwise knotting independent threads together into one unit, or as discrete histories merge to inform one's holistic identity, so too does Gomes unite the distinct narratives of her materials—ranging from gifted dresses, wedding invitations, pattern books—into one intuitive and singular work. As curator Solange Farkas put it: "The art of Sonia Gomes binds cultural movements and traditions that are somehow related to the affirmation of memory, identity and the transformative power of creation in situations of vulnerability and invisibility."
Sonia Gomes lives and works in São Paulo. Gomes's first institutional solo exhibition in Europe premiered in 2019, at the Museum Frieder Burda, Salon Berlin and Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden. Her first major institutional solo exhibition in Brazil toured in 2018, at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo and at the Museu de Arte Contemporânea of Rio de Janeiro. Her work has been exhibited in significant institutional group exhibitions such as Revival, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C. (2017); New Shamans/Novos Xamãs: Brazilian Artists, Rubell Family Collection, Miami, FL, traveled to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C. (2016); Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women 1947-2016, Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, Los Angeles, CA (2016); 56th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2015); Art & Textiles—Fabric as Material and Concept in Modern Art, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, Germany (2013); A Nova Mão Afro-Brasileira, Museu Afro Brasil, São Paulo, Brazil (2013); and Out of Fashion. Textile in International Contemporary Art, Kunsten Museum of Modern Art Aalborg, Aalborg, Denmark (2013). Her work is represented in public collections worldwide including the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, Argentina; Museu Afro Brasil, São Paulo, Brazil; Museu de Arte de São Paulo, Brazil; Museu de Arte do Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Muzeum Susch, Zernez, Switzerland;
San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio, TX; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; and the Rubell Family Collection, Miami, FL.