Sydney “Sage” Cain (she/them), is a visual artist born and raised in San Francisco, CA. Their work reflects encounters with unseen realities.
Current works with printmaking, powdered metals and sculpture mine personal archives, their family’s genealogy, and the intersections of urban renewal and displacement on the psychic, spiritual, emotional and physical wellbeing of marginalized communities.
Sydney Cain: In the Artist's Studio, 2020
Nevada Museum of Art
In Frequencies, July 30, 2022 – January 1, 2023
My artistic journey is marked by inquiries into origins. My curiosities surrounding origin stories and metaphysics are part of a shared lineage throughout the African diaspora. Our ancestors have left us with an abundance of knowledge and beautiful secrets gathered from the swamps and the infinite expanse of other galaxies. I am most interested in what seeds have been dispersed and how we continue to blossom even after continuous storms try to bury us.
The carbon-based materials and dry pigments I utilize are residuals from the burning, breaking, soaking, burying, and crystallization of bones, sap, and quantum particles. The residuals of marine microbes which have taken millions of years to form are what we call chalk. I’m fascinated by using psychometry to understand the relationship between the specific material I use, and the storytelling that emerges through the process of creating.
The practice of shifting and digging – activities of erasure and revelation – allows me to explore, change, and release the need to know what will be revealed through this process.
Though my work often evades specificity by drawing elusive figures, it is intentionally specific in its reference to African aesthetics, mythos and traditions. I choose not to identify (or typify) the figures or symbols that recur in my work because left open, the doors of perception remain infinite, offering people the opportunity to see multiple possibilities reflected in themselves.
By way of Cain and Ruffin lineages from New Orleans, I am the second generation to be raised in San Francisco. The conjunction of scattered lineages, dysfunctional religiosity, and time has contorted my connection geographically. Yet it is a crossroad that has drawn me to teleologies, understandings of our afterlives, and genealogy. The beauty revealed through my excavation occurs despite white delusional consciousness that attempts to block many of us from asking questions and instead encourages us to reject parts of ourselves. I am asking about our bottomless origins so that I, we, they, continue to heal by remembering. In the words of Karen Seneferu, “what is buried is not lost.”
The exhibition Dust to Dust is an excavation into memory and liminal spaces. In communing with these entities, I invite us to explore transcendental grounds of the unseen.
-Sydney Cain, 2021