About Sandra Gould Ford
An author and artist, educator and former steelworker who presents arts experiences that encourage, refresh, enrich creative thinking and inspire.
Sandra Gould Ford is the twice-married mother of two, beautiful daughters, with one darling grandson.
In elementary school, Sandra composed poems, crafted plays and created a graphic novel. She also drew fanciful clothes and attended the Saturday morning art classes at the Carnegie Museum of Art. Sandra adored Life magazine’s photography and took her first “arts” pictures with a Brownie Bullet camera.
Sandra’s work life began in high school, as a lunchroom cashier then an office clerk. After graduation, she worked for Alcoa, U S Steel then Trans World Airlines and a lawyer. Following her pregnancies, she typed at the Poison Control Center, a major television station and a steel mill, all while earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Media Communications and a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from the University of Pittsburgh. With Trade Readjustment Act funds, she earned a Photography Degree, joined the American Society of Media Photographers and freelanced as a photo-essayist.
While working for the Jones & Laughlin Steel Company, Sandra decided to develop what is now becoming a photo-memoir called Steel Genesis, Images and Stories of Metal, Mettle and Personal Genesis. Visit the Steel Genesis web site.
After leaving the mill, Sandra founded Shooting Star Productions, a non-profit organization that published an international, literary quarterly as well as producing writer conferences. For more information, see this site’s Shooting Star section.
Sandra’s first novel, Faraday’s Popcorn Factory, was published by St. Martin’s Press. In 2004, she developed the Allegheny County Jail’s creative writing program now called” Words Without Walls.” Along the way, three beautiful anthologies were produced. Sandra now enjoys teaching while lifting hearts and spirits, awareness and humanity through her writing and visual art. See SucceedandSoar.com.
Writing: Essay, memoir, poetry and fiction (from post-card to novel).
Photography: While Sandra once used large format [Sinar 4×5], medium format [Mamiya twin-lens] and Nikon 35 mm single lens reflex, she now uses small, digital Nikons. Those photographs are “developed” in MS Digital Image Suite and Adobe Photoshop. Images are presented in her on-line gallery.
Contemplative Art: Combinations of water colors, pastels, pen, ink and markers on paper.
Textile Arts: Sandra’s quilts range from bed size to wall hangings that are sometimes three-dimensional and often embellished with beads, metallic threads and found objects.
In 1983, Sandra Gould Ford’s thoughts about the arts advanced from hobby to a worthy career goal 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.
Joseph Campbell’s belief that the world needs new myths inspires Sandra’s work as well as these statements:
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.
Creating and Teaching Writing and Art that Encourages, Refreshes, Enriches Creative Thinking and Inspires
- Summer, 2020, “Introduction to Memoir,” University of Pittsburgh, Osher Institute of Lifelong Learning [Online, via Zoom]
- Winter, 2020, “How to Write A Sonnet,” Pennwriters [Online Course]
- Spring, 2019, “How to Write A Scene,” Pennwriters [Conference Presenter]
With grant from Advancing Black Arts Pittsburgh (partnership of The Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation), Sandra taught:
- “Illustrated Wisdom” in libraries throughout Allegheny County
- “Write Your Story” in Pittsburgh’s Hill District and Homewood communities
Sandra developed the Creative Writing Program at the Allegheny County Jail then gifted her work to Chatham University. The project is now known as Words Without Walls. The program sponsors a writing competition named in Sandra’s honor each year.
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.
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
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.
Fellowships & ResidenciesFellowship: The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Creative Writing
Fellowship: Dow Creativity Center
Dorland Mountain Arts Colony
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
Greensburg Writers Group [current]
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
Pennwriters, Published Penn [current]
Pittsburgh Black Media Federation
Pittsburgh Board of Education, Parent Representative
Pittsburgh Center for the Arts
Pittsburgh (Tournament) Scrabble Club (current)
Pittsburgh Business Exchange
Pittsburgh South Writers Group [current]
Poets and Writers, Inc. (current)
Women of Vision
Words Without Walls (current) – a creative writing collaboration between Chatham University and the Allegheny County Jail