Cynthia Sands spent her formative years in Washington D. C. graduating from Howard University’s School of Fine Arts in 1971. Although she entered Howard as a piano major, the need to express herself through the visual arts inspired her to switch her major from music to design. Ms. Sands’ sense of color and concept has been informed by her formal training by, and close friendships and collaborations with many of the greatest African and African American artists of the 20th and 21st centuries – including Lois Maylou Jones, Skunder, Jeff Donaldson, John Otterbridge to include a few. After college Cynthia’s love of fabric led her to a career as a textile artist designing and exhibiting batiks. During a brief stint as a high school art teacher, she began to show her work while expanding into other art mediums. By the mid - 1970s, she was in search of new spiritual space to inspire her work.
This opportunity came in 1976 when she moved to Zaire changing her life forever, thus beginning a 26 year odyssey of living in Africa. Years of exposure to the day to day cultural, social, political, and economic realities of life in Zaire, Uganda, Morocco, Egypt, Ghana and Guyana led her to study the signs and symbols on textiles as a visual history of indigenous African people. She calls textiles the indigenous newspaper – a visual record and organic methodology that preserves traditional art forms.
Ms. Sands’ art career includes creation of new dye and color applications, utilizing and experimenting with original methods and materials in Africa. She has also launched and conducted training, apprenticeship and income generating activities in Benin, Cameroon, and Ghana and Guyana, among other countries, to investigate uses of indigenous artistic applications for social development, income generation, skills transfer and art education.
Cynthia has exhibited her works of art, lectured and gives demonstration throughout Africa and the U. S. Today, she lives in Washington D. C. continuing to paint, manufacture textiles, research and document indigenous uses of textiles in African life to preserve a visual record of traditional art forms. Today Cynthia works with Ghanaian textile artist helping with their product design and quality issues.