Free Your Mind is a public textile art endeavor led by artist Theda Sandiford, with the objective of gathering, showcasing, embedding, and liberating personal narratives surrounding microaggressions through a multi-sensory installation.
Microaggressions, those nuanced and sometimes unintentional daily interactions, convey hostile, derogatory, or negative messages or assumptions towards historically marginalized groups. The cumulative impact of these routine encounters manifests in tangible consequences—stress, anger, frustration, self-doubt, and ultimately, a sense of powerlessness and invisibility.
This project boldly unveils these interactions to offer a cathartic release. Participants are encouraged to share their experiences of microaggressions by inscribing them onto a ribbon, which is then tied to a net, symbolizing the liberation of these stories from their personal narratives. Each ribbon becomes a tangible “story ribbon.”
The installation evolves with the addition of each new story ribbon, creating a public record of disempowering interactions open for discussion. Participants, in engaging with the work, experience a sense of visibility and acknowledgment. Additionally, the project prompts self-reflection, as visitors may recognize the impact of their own words on others.
As visitors traverse the installation space, motion sensors activate monotone computer voice recordings and a video projection featuring the top 20 microaggressions Theda has encountered. This dynamic element adds an interactive dimension to the exhibition.
Theda is currently engaged in crafting a book cataloging the myriad story ribbons collected so far. Additionally, a dedicated interactive website, layered with census data, is in progress to track the types of microaggressions in various communities where the work is displayed. The ultimate objective is to bring Free Your Mind to all 50 states and develop an anti-implicit bias workbook.
“Free Your Mind” has already made a significant impact on audiences in locations such as Bayonne, NJ; Jersey City, NJ; Governors Island, NYC; Butter2 Fair in Indianapolis, and The Standard hotel during Miami Art Week. The project resonated with diverse audiences at WaNaWari in Seattle, the MAFA Conference, Schweinfurth Arts Center in Auburn, and Krasl Arts Center in St Joseph, MI.
Looking ahead, Free Your Mind is already slated to travel to Touchstone Center for Crafts in PA and the Delaware Contemporary in 2024 with the ultimate goal of touring all 50 states.
HOW TO PARTICIPATE
My goal is to tour Free Your Mind collecting story ribbons in every state in the United States and ultimately build an interactive website documenting the project.
Interested individuals, institutions and businesses can can support the project by identifying locations to engage their local community to collect story ribbons.
Contact email@example.com if you wish to host Free Your Mind.
SHARE YOUR STORY VIRTUALLY
Share a story about a microaggression you have experienced. How did it make you feel? HERE
Follow @misstheda on Instagram to get updates on this project and see your story in the installation.
Follow @misstheda on Instagram to get updates on the project and see your story in the installation.