Wide Load: Baggage Cart from Theda Sandiford’s Emotional Baggage Cart series, 2021. Photo by April Tracey.

Theda Sandifords’ ‘Hidden In Plain Sight’ at Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art (MoCADA)

A dynamic presentation made up of virtual and public art exhibitions by Caribbean-American artist Theda Sandiford, ‘Hidden in Plain Sight’ confronts the psychological impact of racial gaslighting as it has been revealed in her everyday interactions.

“Intentional or not, these types of comments trigger a spiral of self-doubt and create a convenient way to avoid uncomfortable conversations about race,” Theda says.
“You’re being overly dramatic.”
“Are you sure it was about race?”
“I’m sure he/she didn’t mean it like that.”

In this exhibition, Theda goes beyond the aesthetic armour she has donned for protection, to shield herself from the implicit biases projected onto her. In an effort to reconcile the past and its lasting impact on the present, Theda creates: “The constant questioning, twisting, and undermining of what I know to be true – has had a profound negative affect upon me, manifesting in insomnia, anxiety, and hefty amounts of emotional baggage. Through these works I am exorcising those demons.”

Wide Load: Baggage Cart from Theda Sandiford’s Emotional Baggage Cart series, 2021. Photo by April Tracey.Theda Sandiford, Wide Load: Baggage Cart from the Emotional Baggage Cart series, 2021. Courtesy of MoCADA. Photographer: April Tracey

Theda Sandiford is a self-taught mixed media artist based in Jersey City, New Jersey. Though art is ingrained in her psyche, Theda’s first creative endeavours were in the music business as a sales & digital marketing executive. After years of groundbreaking digital work for musicians, she began applying digital and analogue art processes to develop her own artistic self-expression as a means of art therapy. Her work has been on view at the Newark Museum of Art, Fuller Craft Museum, Calabar Gallery, MoCADA, among others.

“Using racial conflict as a starting point, I juxtapose various fibres with a variety of found materials using free form weaving, coiling, knotting, wrapping and jewellery making techniques.  Meticulously collected materials, transformed by their collective memory become “social fabric” weaving together contemporary issues and personal narratives.

“You Are So Articulate” from Theda Sandiford’s Microaggressions series, 2021. Photo by April Tracey.Theda Sandiford, You Are So Articulate from the series Microaggressions, 2021. Images courtesy of MoCADA. Photographer: April Tracey

100-foot extensions of rope, twine, and yarn impeccably wrapped, woven, tied and embellished with recycled beads, ribbon, lace, tape and bottle cap bobbles lures you into my hue-imbued, enmeshed installations symbolizing natural hair. These bold albeit whimsically twisted and locked forms gingerly invite the audience into off-the-wall conversations about microaggressions against black women and their hair.

Community art-making is also key to my process. Multi-disciplinary experiences pairing people, food, wine, music and art, create a safe space to explore themes such as equity & inclusion, sustainability and personal wellbeing.” – Theda Sandiford

The exhibition will be on view at the MoCADA from the 10th of July until the 23rd of August 2021.