The Baggage We Carry
- by Theda Sandiford
Redistricting, Heights over Springfield , I Can’t Breathe
bottle caps, solar rope lights, yellow 550 paracord, hollow braided polyurethane rope, recycled commercial fishing net, zip ties, gold spray paint on recovered shopping cart
Titled The Baggage We Carry, Theda Sandiford’s meticulously collected assemblages of found objects reference both the traumatic events of the past year and the artist’s own personal attempts to deal with those events through her art. “We all carry emotional baggage,” she says. “We have the choice to let it define us or to let it go and move forward.”
With these carts, Sandiford explains, “I want to draw people in and spark their curiosity. Not only to discover what materials are used to create these sculptures, but to look within and recognize the emotional baggage they are carrying. Each cart is affixed with a solar panel. When the sun sets, the carts light up and take on a new meaning and form, glowing from within.”
About her process, she says: “I find things when I walk around. I’ll find a gear from a bicycle. I’ll see something broken. I’m seeing things all the time. Depending on what neighborhood I’m in, I can get a sense of who lives there by what they leave on the curb.... As you go through different neighborhoods, you’ll get to know who lives there.”
Born in Queens, Theda Sandiford has lived and worked in Jersey City since 1995. A self-taught mixed media artist, she often works with found objects, transforming them into works that weave together personal narratives and contemporary issues. A 2021 recipient of a NJ State Council on the Arts Fellowship, Sandiford has exhibited widely across New York and New Jersey, including a recent solo exhibition here in Summit at the Visual Arts Center of NJ.
“I started making art in 2004,” says Sandiford, “after someone said to me that I wasn’t expressing myself fully, and to ‘take the things you’re upset about and instead of dwelling on them, make art to release them.’ It was a suggestion that now is a life-line for me,” she says. “How do I get to happy if I’m confused? How do I find clarity? My work deals with identity and self-exploration. I’m not doing it just to make pretty things to enjoy. I’m doing it to be fully-realized.”
Take a Look!
Location: Village Green – South West Quad
Installation Status: Current Installations