Guest Curator, Cross-Cultural Exchange Coordinator
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Sandra Stephens was born in Montego Bay, Jamaica and is an Associate Professor in Time and Motion Arts at PrattMWP in Utica, NY where she has also served as Gallery Director. She also teaches in the Social Sciences and Cultural Studies Department at the Pratt Brooklyn campus and is pursuing her PhD at the innovative Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts (IDSVA). Stephens creates video and installation works to explore issues related to cultural and individual identity. She has exhibited nationally, throughout museums and galleries in the United States including the Everson Museum and the Museum of Latin American Art and internationally in various locations including Circulo de Bellas Artes in Madrid, Triennale di Milano in Milan, Centre de Cultura Contemporania in Barcelona and Atelier-Haus/ Galerie ZeitZone in Berlin. She has also curated various shows throughout the United States including “conversationXchange,” a series of exhibitions that create a platform for cultural exchange between artists based in the Caribbean and those within the diaspora; artists present their own work, appropriate each other’s work, and collaborate together. Stephens has taught at Hamilton College, Hunter College, F.I.T. and SVA in Manhattan.
I currently have two different directions within my work. The first direction reveals a more personal and psychological approach to my work. I have been interested in identity construction and how who we are is influenced by what is around us. This construction constantly changes through a dialogue between the self and the outside world. Visually I see this constructed self as a möbius strip with no distinct inside or outside. This view has led to a general interest in playing with representing the integral connection between inner and outer. I find video installations and interactive works as useful ways to represent this connection. Through the scale of video projections and the feedback that interactive works allow, I am able to directly implicate the viewer, as he/she becomes a part of the piece.
I have also been working within the video essay genre. I like the in between nature of the form, not quite documentary and not quite experimental video. I find it is within these in between spaces that we are able to ask important questions about how we construct the world around us. One of my more recent pieces, “Art, Craft or Soul”, is connected to a series of videos exploring craft and the craft markets in Jamaica. It addresses questions I have concerning the separation between art and craft and the connection this separation has with class. It also questions whether constructs such as “Art” and “Craft” help to reinforce power dynamics within a class system that is even more pronounced in the developing nation of Jamaica.