Through careful design and powerful juxtaposition, the work in “To Sleep With Terra” are symbolic, speaking to Suné Woods’ rich observations of the role of race and gender in oppression.
The tenth Baum Award was presented to Suné Woods in 2016 under the curatorial direction of Heather Snider of SF Camerawork.
Woods was born in 1976 and grew up spending summers on her grandparents’ farm in Ohio, returning to her home in Lantana, Florida, for the school year. The annual migrations of her childhood between cultural and natural landscapes of the Midwest and southern Florida helped to influence the nature of Woods’ work. Topics of race, culture, geography, and where one belongs are common threads throughout her work.
Woods received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Miami in 1997 and her Master of Fine Art in Photography from the California College of the Arts in 2010. The photographs in the series, Bountiful Darkness (2010), composed for her MFA thesis, are an exploration of our expectations as a society for race and gender in the landscape, and an “attempt to reclaim spaces where resistance and violence were plentiful.” Spurred by the reactions to a self-portrait Woods took on her family’s farm in Ohio, her work in Bountiful Darkness is a series of rich and beautiful monochrome photographs of black women immersed in nature. The series addresses elements of her personal life as well as historical events.
In, To Sleep With Terra,Woods creates photo collages and multi-channel video installations employing a combination of appropriated and created imagery to address sociological phenomenon, imperialist mechanisms, and formations of knowledge. Her work engages absences and vulnerabilities within cultural and social histories translated through the absence/presence of a physical body. Woods says she gravitated toward collage as a means to “understand more deeply how disparate things relate when they are mashed up in a visual conversation.” The imagery is used to untangle the relationship between violence, race, and the human spirit to create what she calls her own topographies.
More than an act to create beauty or entertainment, Woods creates art as a conversation, a call for dialogue about some of the more challenging topics that haunt our societal psyche. In a 2016 interview with Britt Harrison for the website, Future Tongue, she said that she thinks there is “a power in a way that images are used to represent and determine how one is empowered or disempowered.”
Woods is a recipient of the 2015 John Gutmann Photography Fellowship Award and the 2012 Visions from a New California Initiative. She has participated in residencies at the Headlands Center of the Arts in Marin, California, the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont, and the Center for Photography at Woodstock in New York, and will be in residence at Light Work in Syracuse, New York, in 2016. At the time of receiving the 2016 Baum Award, she lives and works in Los Angeles where she is represented by Papillon Art.
Credits – 2016 Baum Award
|Jury:||Heather Snider, Executive Director, SF Camerawork|
|Hesse McGraw, SF Art Institute, Vice President for Exhibitions and Public Programs|
|Robert Johnson, The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Curator Emeritus|
|Santhi Kavuri-Bauer, San Francisco State University, Curator and Lecturer|
|Sergio De La Torre, San Francisco University, Artist and Lecturer|