Sound has been vital to emancipatory moments of resistance in the African Diaspora. Vessels for sonic expressions of liberation—such as drums, the voice, and the spirit—are therefore embedded within the many legacies of Black liberation that have transpired locally and nationally. From the Civil Rights Era, to Ferguson to Baltimore, all the way to the emancipation of the first Black republic in the Western hemisphere in Haiti, the quest for freedom roots back to ancestral beginnings in the Caribbean, the continent of Africa and beyond.
Award-winning artist, curator, and deejay Sadie Woods has a made a career out of producing and curating sounds reflective of the histories of rebellion, collective protest, and restorative healing from a global Black perspective. From her performance piece A Study in Rhyme and Song at High Concept Labs to her site-specific radio broadcast on Radius, “It Was a Rebellion” for the fiftieth anniversary of the 1968 Chicago “riots,” her work has consistently embodied and unveiled innovative practices of social justice by way of music.
Her solo exhibition Coyaba draws from this multi-ethnic lineage of emancipatory practices through presenting new work from her ongoing series of wooden music boxes. Coyaba—a word of Arawakan and Taino origins meaning ‘heaven’—is an idyllic place of eternal tranquility without catastrophe. Her music boxes understand the material manifestation of sonic expression as a conduit to memory, culture, and ancestral narratives. In an effort to transcend the injustices of our present day, she uses her music boxes as signifiers for the longer genealogies that we belong to. Through wood, metal, and sound, Woods’ music boxes give viewers access to the communal and personal narratives that have shaped our collective consciousness in Black liberation.