Tiona Nekkia McClodden: MASK / CONCEAL / CARRY

Curator’s Note by Ebony L. Haynes. Artist’s statement by Tiona Nekkia McClodden. Conversation between Tiona Nekkia McClodden and Simone White. Poem by Rhea Dillon

Tiona Nekkia McClodden considers the presence and absence of the Black figure and aesthetic tropes of representation through work traversing film, installation, sculpture, painting, and writing.

“An artist who may be America’s most essential today.” —Siddhartha Mitter, The New York Times

Known for her sharp examinations of biomythography and intersubjectivity, McClodden uses a research-based approach in her practice as an artist and self-described “historian and cultural custodian.” MASK / CONCEAL / CARRY dissects the many meanings of these three words. McClodden creates films, paintings, and sculptures from her own firearms and calibers, and referencing cultural and historical objects including Benin Bronzes and BDSM gimp masks. This exhibition pivots around the concept of “training to failure.” It holds that, in order to achieve gains or to succeed—a success measured by and set in accordance with someone else’s standard—you must strenuously lift something that is inherently too great a load to bear.  McClodden communicates a core awareness of the body as it corresponds to the fragile boundaries of the psyche. Through custom lighting, the artist carefully choreographs a performance between the work, the gallery space, and the viewer. 

Adding to McClodden’s narrative and psychological concepts, this publication includes a curator’s note from Ebony L. Haynes, a poem by the acclaimed writer and artist Rhea Dillon, and a conversation between the poet Simone White and the artist, as well as a statement penned by McClodden herself.


Publisher: 52 Walker/David Zwirner Books

Artists: Tiona Nekkia McClodden

Contributors: Clarion, Rhea Dillon, Ebony L. Haynes, Simone White

Designer: Andrea Hyde

Printer: VeronaLibri, Verona

Publication Date: 2023

Binding: Hardcover

Dimensions: 6.5 × 9.25 in | 16.5 × 23.2 cm

Pages: 112

Reproductions: 56 illustrations

ISBN: 9781644231081

Retail: $35 | $47 CAN | £25

Status: Available

Tiona Nekkia McClodden

Born in 1981 in Blytheville, Arkansas, Tiona Nekkia McClodden was a resident of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Madison, Maine, in 2018. McClodden’s multidisciplinary solo exhibition The Trace of an Implied Presence, which is coproduced in partnership with Nike, opened at The Shed, New York, in August 2022. Solo exhibitions by the artist have been presented at Company Gallery, New York (2019); Performance Space, New York (2018); and Recess, New York (2018), among other arts spaces. The artist was selected to participate in the 2019 Whitney Biennial, and among the seventy-five artists exhibited she was the recipient of the Bucksbaum Award. She is the founder and director of the exhibition space and library Conceptual Fade, in Philadelphia. The artist is represented by Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. Work by McClodden is held in public collections such as The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Rennie Museum, Vancouver. The artist lives and works in Philadelphia.


The Clarion series of illustrated publications is positioned as an extension of each exhibition at the groundbreaking gallery space 52 Walker, curated by Ebony L. Haynes. The program focuses on showcasing conceptual and research-based artists from a range of backgrounds and at various stages in their careers. The series title is derived from the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop, the oldest of its kind, at the University of California, San Diego. Octavia Butler attended this workshop in the 1970s. Butler’s writing has been influential in the conceptual framework of the program and the Clarion series. With a sleek design influenced by encyclopedias, each publication features color reproductions of the works on view, alongside an introduction by Haynes, commissioned essays, artist texts, archival materials, and more.

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Rhea Dillon

Rhea Dillon is an artist, writer, and poet based in London. Examining and abstracting her intrigue of the “rules of representation” as a device to undermine contemporary Western culture, Dillon questions what constitutes the ontology of Blackness versus the ontic. The artist’s first institutional solo exhibition opens at Tate Britain Art Now in 2023.

Ebony L. Haynes

Ebony L. Haynes is a writer and curator from Toronto. She is based in New York, where she is a director at David Zwirner. Haynes is a visiting curator and critic at the Yale School of Art in the painting and printmaking class of 2021. She also runs an online “school” that offers free professional practice classes to Black students worldwide. 

Simone White

Simone White is a poet and critic. She is the author of or, on being the other woman (2022), Dear Angel of Death (2018), Of Being Dispersed (2016), and House Envy of All the World (2010). She teaches in the English department at the University of Pennsylvania and lives in Brooklyn.

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