55 Fifth Avenue New York, New York

January 17, 2024 – July 01, 2024

Time Equities Inc. Art-in-Buildings is pleased to announce the newest exhibition in the lobby at 55 Fifth
Avenue, Theda Sandiford Ponytails and Door Knocker Earrings 

In Theda Sandiford’s latest installation, Ponytails and Door Knocker Earrings, the artist explores the intricate relationship between personal identity, cultural heritage, and the profound significance of hair. Using the curved wall of 55 Fifth Avenue, Sandiford hangs a series of rope structures made from ribbons, mixed media yarn, trim, beads, and cotton rope knotted onto a gold spray painted bamboo ring – many of the ribbons gifted by her grandmother before her passing in 1990.  In her artist statement, she writes:

Imagine, for yourself – hair. What is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it long, silky tresses? Coils, kinks, curls, dreads or braids? A buzz cut? Or is it, the elusive, coveted “good” hair. What if it is some days, frizz and on others, smooth as cornsilk. That is how it is for some people, and that is my hair. Or was. Or can be. But more importantly, Don’t. Touch. My. Hair. 

For, I am my hair, and my hair is, by no stretch of the imagination, is me. My hair, is a collection of memories twisted, bundled, knotted, and loved together in intricate patterns and many layers of life’s undulations. 

In all its glory, my hair is reflective of my Caribbean American identity. Natural, braided, beaded, wrapped or straight there is mystery hidden in my hair. And in me. My kinks and twists hold secrets, and pain and joy; that are mine to reveal when I am ready and to whom I choose. My hair is an extension of my body and my SELF, on my dime and in the style that I choose. My hair is my crown, a melody in the wind, my hair, Is. 

All the embellishments sewn and knotted onto my hair are imbued independently with integrity.  Their meaning amplified into my shine and ‘joyful noise’ as I turn my head. My hair holds memories of being sent to the person who could ‘do my hair’. Like a ringmaster, she tamed my hair. To quiet it down. Not unlike, the me in the world that held her tongue and had her hair hot combed straight until it did not offend so I could be “heard” in business meetings. All to “fit in.” 

And yet, still people touch my hair without permission. Am I so alien, that your urge to touch tops my need to feel safe within my body? It seems you are asking – how are we different? What I would rather we ask is – how are we the same? With this work, I have created a ladder on which to meet you. 

As long as you remember: Don’t. Touch. My. Hair. 

For Sandiford, the whimsical sculptures tempt visitors into the installation, and “gingerly invite the audience into off the-wall conversations about the respectability politics of black hair.”

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Theda Sandiford, an acclaimed, self-taught fiber and installation artist hailing from St Croix USVI, is celebrated for her award-winning artist practice.

Drawing inspiration from the profound impact of racial trauma, Theda melds various fibers with an array of found materials through the art of free form weaving, coiling, knotting, and jewelry-making techniques. Her meticulously gathered materials, combined with community contributions, serve as a testament to collective memory, transforming into “social fabric.” This intertwines contemporary issues and personal narratives, fostering a rich tapestry of interconnected stories.

At the core of Theda’s creative process lies community art-making, a foundational element. She orchestrates multi-disciplinary experiences that unite individuals, sound, and artistry to cultivate a sanctuary for exploring themes of equity and inclusion, sustainability, and personal well-being.

Theda’s artistic footprint extends globally, showcased in prestigious venues such as World of Threads, Expo Chicago, Untitled Art Fair, SPRING/BREAK ART SHOW, Governor’s Island NYC, New Jersey Arts Annual, and the American Contemporary Craft: National Juried Exhibition. Her work has received acclaim in Excellence in Fibers VI and Fiber VIII from Fiber Art Now, earning her the 2020 Jersey City Arts Visual Artist Award, the 2021 Fellowship in Craft from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and the 2022 Jersey City Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship. She has been named a Fellow for the 2023-24 National of Leaders of Color Fellowship program.

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Theda Sandiford: Ponytails and Door Knocker Earrings is curated by Tessa Ferreyros and sponsored by Time Equities Inc. (TEI) Art-in-Buildings. TEI is committed to enriching the experience of our properties through the Art-in-Buildings Program, an innovative approach that brings contemporary art by emerging and mid-career artists to non-traditional exhibition spaces in the interest of promoting artists, expanding the audience for art, and creating a more interesting environment for our building occupants, residents, and guests.Founded in 1966, Time Equities, Inc. (TEI) has been in the real estate investment, development, and asset & property management business for more than 50 years. TEI currently holds in its own portfolio approximately 22.61 million square feet of residential, industrial, office and retail property – including more than 3,078 multi-family apartment units. In addition, TEI is in various stages of development and pre-development of constructing approximately 1.62 million square feet of various property types which includes at least 1,157 residential units. With properties in 27 states, five Canadian provinces, Germany, the Netherlands, and Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, the TEI portfolio benefits from a diversity of property types, sizes and markets. There are concentrations in the Northeast, Southwest, Midwest and West Coast, and new markets are always being evaluated.

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