Maria Welych Special to Citizens
AUBURN — Artist Theda Sandiford channels microaggressions — common verbal, behavioral or environmental actions, whether intentional or unintended, that communicate hostile, derogatory or negative attitudes toward the marginalized or cultural fringes of society — on a daily basis.
Riding on the subway in New York City, he had his hair touched without permission as many times as he could count. When he gets out of his car at his condo in New Jersey, he is often asked where he lives.
“Once security was followed when shopping? I followed everything all the time,” he said.
The results of the exhibit, “Triggered, Truth & Transformation,” will be on display at the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn through May 28. Sandiford will also hold a rope-making workshop at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 15, at the center. The event will be part expert discussion, part demonstration, part group discussion on microaggressions. The workshop is expected to last 1.5 hours and is free and open to the public, but registration is required.
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Both the exhibit and the workshop seek to help people release the pain of microaggressions, Sandiford said.
“For me, the microaggressions “trigger” the trauma of the nation was discovered. “I share my truth through my art to illuminate the stories behind these moments of disintegration, thereby “transforming” the sting of everyday micromissions into healing.
The show includes excerpts from two of his series: “I am my hair” and “carts of movement.” “I grew my hair” people touching their hair without question.
“Touching your hair without question is an invasion of personal space,” Sandiford said. “I must feel like an animal or a slave on display.
“Black hair has long been political,” she continued. “Historical perceptions and respectability politics have deep ramifications in society today. Hair, hair and natural hair are not considered professional beauty standards.
These pieces of hair are like tying ties wrapped in cotton rope and dyed curls, recycled sari thread, plastic cord, string, ribbon, sequins and pom-poms.
The soft members visually entice the viewer to touch, while the placement in the gallery is a reminder not to touch.
“This irony brings me great joy,” Sandiford said. “The ropes are an allegory for the hair story.”
With “Vehicles of Emotional Inhibition,” Sandiford channels the power, anger, frustration, and helplessness of all these microaggressions as she weaves the recycled materials — string, paracord, grocery bags, string lights, beads, fabric, and bottle caps — into abandoned grocery carts that she takes and refurbishes. .
“For me, my ‘cars of emotional baggage’ are vessels to drive away trauma,” he says.
“All these interactions fuel my psychological and spiritual strength until I exist only as a shell of myself,” he said. “Often I don’t feel that I encounter these subtle acts of discrimination. If I defend myself, I offer the consequence of being labeled as an “angry Black woman” so to speak.
A key part of Sandiford’s exhibition is the presentation of the public art textile “Free Mind.” Participants are invited to write a story about a microaggression they have experienced on a piece of string and tie it to a fishing net to release the story from their personal narrative.
“The instruction is evolving with each new story released, keeping a public record of these conversations,” he said. “Participants have a feeling of being seen and recognized while interacting with the work.”
From 2021 in Jersey City, New Jersey, the Wa Na Wari project will visit Seattle; Krasl Art Center in Joseph, Michigan; and the Mid-Atlantic Fiber Conference in Millersville, Pennsylvania, after Schweinfurth.
“My ultimate goal of this project is to collect all the state and document stories of the story in an interactive place, as a permanent public instrument of this project, memorial microaggressions and the coverage of local census data, to reveal the trends prevailing in local communities,” said Sandiford. .
If you have a story to tell, visit the Schweinfurth Art Center during gallery hours and check the ribbon, or add to Sandiford’s growing database by filling out the online form. bit.ly/FreeYourMindArt.
This exhibition is sponsored in part by the New York State Council on the Arts in association with the Office of the Governor and the New York State and National Legislature for the Arts.
Currently on display at the Schweinfurth with “Triggered, Truth & Transformation” are the annual “Made in NY” exhibits and “Positive, Negative, Shallow, and Deep” by Oswego artist Tyrone Johnson-Neuland. (Editor’s note: Johnson-Neuland will be featured in next week’s edition of the Citizen’s Guide entertainment magazine, Go, and on auburnpub.com.)
Mary Welych is the marketing director at the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn, a multi-arts center that opened in 1981 on a bequest from Auburn-born architect Julius Schweinfurth. The center’s programs include more than a dozen exhibitions each year and educational programs for children and adults featuring local, national and international artists. For more information, call (315) 255-1553 or visit schweinfurthartcenter.org.