Curator's statement for the Central Massachusetts Artist Initiative project (CMAI) of the Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA, November 14, 2018 - May 12, 2019.
Toby Sisson’s encaustic monotypes unite her personal experience with broader issues pertaining to race. In American | naciremA 1, a single word—American—is inscribed repeatedly as Sisson explores the relationship between a word and its various meanings. Nacirema refers to a network of social clubs for black Americans where members, including Sisson’s father, gathered. This intentional inversion of the word “American” speaks of the binary reality experienced by black Americans, termed Double Consciousness by W.E.B. DuBois. In this, black Americans find their “dual” identities split and at odds, constantly aware of their perception by others—namely whites. In her recent works, Sisson employs text in reference to black writers who have engaged with issues of race and the struggle for equality. Yet Sisson recognizes language as a social construction, laden with arbitrary meaning. To this end, she emphasizes this ambiguity by nestling text among other abstracted forms.