Stephanie J. Woods’ body of work examines performative behavior and the cognitive effects of forced cultural assimilation including the effects of intergenerational trauma, the politicization of afro hair and the everyday coping devices and affirmations Black people establish to survive. She further explores these concepts by using textiles, photography, video, sculpture, community-engaged projects and material language. Her multimedia works utilize symbolic imagery and materials that reference Black American culture and the southern American experience, such as hair weave, satin bonnets, afro hair, Carolina red clay and sweet tea.
Currently based in Albuquerque, N.M., Woods is an assistant professor of interdisciplinary art at The University of New Mexico. Her passion for interdisciplinary practices and material language is evident through her collaborations and implementation of symbolic materials that examine performative behavior, domestic spaces and alternative realities that reference Black American culture and her experiences growing up in the American South.
Woods earned a Master of Fine Arts in new media sculpture and is the recipient of several residencies and fellowships, including Black Rock Senegal, the Fine Arts Work Center fellowship, ACRE Residency, the McColl Center for Art + Innovation, Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists Residency and Penland School of Craft. Her work is featured in the permanent collection at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, located in Richmond, V.A. She has also exhibited her work at Smack Mellon and Tiger Strikes Asteroid, both located in Brooklyn, N.Y. Additionally, her work has been featured in BOMB Magazine, Art Papers, Burnaway and the Boston Art Review.
“I became aware of the 1858 Prize in 2014 while I was pursuing my MFA at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro,” says Woods. “During that time, I saw that artists Sonya Clark, Stacy Lynn Waddell, Joyce Scott and Ebony G. Patterson were either winners or finalists of this award. Seeing the recognition of other Black women artists like myself excited me! 2021 was my fourth year applying, and it means so much to be recognized by the place where you come from. I was born in Seneca, S.C. and raised in Charlotte, N.C. My experiences growing up in the South have influenced so many aspects of my artwork and who I am.”