I am an accomplished author and artist, educator and publisher who worked in a steel mill while raising two lovely daughters. I now present literary and visual art to encourage, refresh, enrich thinking and inspire.
In elementary school, I composed poems, crafted plays and created a graphic novel. I also drew fanciful clothes and attended the Saturday morning art classes at the Carnegie Museum of Art. I adored Life magazine’s photography and took my first “arts” pictures with a Brownie Bullet camera.
In 1983, my arts activities moved from hobby to career after reading these words by Pace University Professor, Dr. Frederick Herzberg: The humanities (literature) – far from being mere entertainment or glitter – offer THE pragmatic data for reflection, which in turn nourishes human productivity, innovation, ethics and character. I went on to receive a Photography Degree and a Masters Degree in Creative Writing.
Next, I founded Shooting Star Productions, a non-profit organization that published an international, literary quarterly as well as producing writer conferences. My first novel was published by St. Martin’s Press. In 2004, I began and developed the Allegheny County Jail’s creative writing program now called” Words Without Walls.” Along the way, three beautiful anthologies were produced. I now enjoy teaching while lifting hearts and spirits, awareness and humanity through my art.
My writing is influenced by Joseph Campbell’s belief that the world needs new myths inspire my work. Also,
- John Flaherty in “Timeless Books for Timely Issues:” Every great work of literature illuminates the human condition, fuels thinking on timeless questions, and stimulates the imagination.
- Filmmaker Norman Jewison, accepting the Irving Thalberg award: Just tell us stories that move us to laugher and tears and perhaps tell us a little something about ourselves.
- Roger Housden, “Life Lessons from Rembrandt:” … (art is) the universal, perennial story of everyman’s journey from innocence to experience, from ignorance to wisdom.
- Roger Rosenblatt’s four purposes of writing (and art): To make suffering endurable, evil intelligible, justice desirable and love possible.
- Writing: Essay, memoir, poetry and fiction (from post-card to novel).
- Photography: While I once used large format cameras, I now stick with small Nikons. These digital photographs are “developed” in MS Digital Image Suite and Adobe Photoshop. Images are presented in an on-line gallery.
- Contemplative Art: Combinations of water colors, pastels, pen, ink and markers on paper.
- Textile Arts: My quilts range from small wall hangings to bed size. Wall hangings are sometimes embellished with beads and other 3-dimensional objectives.
Ongoing Creating and Teaching Writing and Art that Encourages, Refreshes, Enriches Creative Thinking and Inspires
2018-2019 with grant from Advancing Black Arts Pittsburgh (partnership of The Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation), taught:
- “Illustrated Wisdom” in libraries throughout Allegheny County
- “Write Your Story” in Pittsburgh’s Hill District and Homewood communities
2004-2010 Developed the Creative Writing Program at the Allegheny County Jail that Sandra gifted to Chatham University. It is now known as the Words Without Walls Program.
2010 Instructor, Writing the Memoir, Osher Center, University of Pittsburgh
- Visual Journaling, a series of arts & wellness workshops, Homewood-Brushton Family Support Center
- Bookmaking, Banners, Fabric Bowls & Dream Catchers during First Night Celebration, New Years Eve, Pittsburgh
- Business Writing for Staff, Homewood YWCA
- Woven-Quilted Pillows, Doll-making, Construction of Miniature Villages, Creative Writing & Textile Arts, Homewood YWCA
- Creative Writing and Hand-crafted Book Making, Brashear Association, Pittsburgh, PA
- Creative Writing, Illustration and Book Design,
Derry Middle School, Derry, Pennsylvania
- Creative Writing, Center for Learning Solutions (Osher Institute),
University of Pittsburgh
- Fiber Arts Instructor, Lincoln Elementary School and Chartiers Elementary School
- Fiber Arts and Creative Writing, public housing sites via Beverly Jewell Walls Lovelace Program
Featured Artist, Indiana Art Center, Indianapolis, Indiana
A Year in the Life of Black Pittsburgh, a Photography Project
1998 Published first novel in hardback with St. Martins Press, New York (released in trade paperback in 2000)
Founder, Shooting Star Productions, Inc., a cultural organization. Editor, Artistic Director and Publisher of Shooting Star Review, a quarterly, literary and arts magazine that explored the Black experience.
Awards and Honors
Advancing Black Arts Awardee, The Pittsburgh Foundation, 2018 and 2012
Sandra Gould Ford Writing Award – Chatham University naming of award to honor the founding of the Creative Writing Program at the Allegheny County Jail – 2011 and ongoing
Panelist, Pennsylvania Humanities Council, Large Grants Panel, 2008
$7,500 Seed Grant award , The Heinz Endowments Creative Heights program, 2006
Honoree, Women in the Material World, The Women and Girls Foundation, 2006
Special Invitation: Featured Artist, Indiana Art Center, Indiana Black Expo, July, 2006
“Women of New Tribe,” outstanding, regional artist, August Wilson Center, Pittsburgh, 2006
Special Invitation: African American Quilters & Preservers of Western Pennsylvania exhibition, Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, 2004
Special Invitation: The Urban League of Pittsburgh Art Exhibit, 2003
Judge, Prose Competition, The Lantern, Literary Magazine, Ursinus College, Spring, 2003
Fellowship, Creative Writing, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts
Fellowship, Dow Creativity Center, Midland, Michigan
Fellowship in Arts Management, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts
Nelson Algren Fiction Award, Chicago Tribune
Panelist, Artist in Education Program, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Advising Governor’s Council on grant awards and roster artist selection
Panelist, Literature Program, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts – Advising Governor’s Council on grant awards to artists and arts organizations
Juried Selection, Three Rivers Arts Festival, Pittsburgh, PA (Note: First exhibition of photography that would launch “Steel Genesis”), 1979
Sandra Gould Ford has produced several one-woman photography and one-woman textile arts exhibitions in Pittsburgh, PA, beginning with the Studio Gallery Z and including the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild. She has also participated in one-woman and juried group exhibitions in Bedford, PA, Wilmington, DE, Auburn, NY, Indianapolis, IN and across the Mid-Atlantic region. Her quilts have toured museums across the United States, including New York City’s American Craft Museum, as part of curated exhibitions.
Artistic Fellowships & Residencies
- Fellowship: The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts
- Fellowship: Dow Creativity Center
- Dorland Mountain Arts Colony
- Ucross Foundation
- Active Member, Authors Guild (current)
- Active Member, Science Fiction Writers of America (current)
- American Society of Media Photographers
- Associated Writing Programs
- Bach Choir of Pittsburgh, Board of Directors
- Black Artists Meetup
- Black Photographers’ Association
- Fiber Arts Guild
- Friends of Homewood Library
- Kingsley Association, Board of Managers
- Kuntu Writers Workshop
- Leadership Pittsburgh, Class X (current)
- National Association of Black Journalists
- Pennsylvania Association of Non Profit Organizations, Board of Directors
- Pittsburgh Black Media Federation
- Pittsburgh Board of Education, Parent Representative
- Pittsburgh Center for the Arts
- Pittsburgh (Tournament) Scrabble Club (current)
- Pittsburgh Business Exchange
- Poets and Writers, Inc. (current)
- Ujamaa Collective
- Women of Vision
- Words Without Walls (current) – a creative writing collaboration between Chatham University and the Allegheny County Jail
- Master of Fine Arts, Creative Writing, University of Pittsburgh, 1990
- Associate in Specialized Technology, Photography/Multimedia,
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, 1988
- Bachelor of Arts, Media Communications, University of Pittsburgh, 1982