In Abakanowicz Fellowship 2021, Alumni in Action, Events

Meet Abakanowicz Fellowship Awardee Sarah Maria Acosta Ahmad

“Imagine a prairie, lush and overgrown, teeming with life, but instead of vast open space, condense the image to a small city lot. It is here where my fieldwork emerges, supported by the Abakanowicz Fellowship and the same weaving-together spirit of the dear Magdalena. Drawing back to the roots of Nahua Indigenous medicine-making, this summer I have had the honor of working with a group of youth on Three Fire Nations land (Pontiac, MI) on a community social justice mural as well as a healing garden for immigrant survivors of domestic and sexual violence. The healing garden will be a living-breathing art installation–each plot planted in the color of the sacred four directions. Looking from above, below, and from the side, the healing garden will take the shape of the sacred medicine wheel. Directly across from the garden is our mural, painted by local LGBTQ+ and allied youth who designed and painted the mural according to their collective vision for community and decolonization. Made up of native medicinal plants, corn elders, and protest yard signs that stand for Black and Trans Lives, Native sovereignty and support immigrants, the mural stretches past its canvas and trickles into our community garden. In this way, my research aims to create public art spaces that are not only accessible to low-income BIPOC families, but also centers our healing around generational trauma as each plantecestor is intended to soothe physical, mental, and emotional wounds that manifest from colonization. As such, I believe that this work best fits the mission and vision of Magdalena Abakanowicz’s legacy, utilizing her passion and curiosity for how art may transform collective dialogues around trauma and healing.”

About Sarah Maria Acosta Ahmad

Sarah María (She/her, They/them) is a Two-Spirit copalera, artist, trauma worker, herbalist, and community organizer from Pontiac, Michigan. They use their Mexika ancestral wisdom to make medicines and to guide plant teachings that are affirming for gender gradient folks. Sarah has a BA in Women’s and Gender Studies and Political Science from DePaul University and is working on a graduate studies program in Community, Liberation, Indigenous and Ecopsychologies at Pacifica Graduate Institute. Currently, Sarah María is involved in crisis work at a local anti-violence organization, designing and advocating for the implementation of culturally competent services for queer, disabled, low-income, and peoples of color in urban communities. When Sarah is not working or gardening, she focuses on building an ancestral apothecary that centers Queer and Trans BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color), mutual-aid medicine sharing, and decolonial care work. Their interests currently include Indigenous bearth work, textiles, shapeshifting with plants, bodymind liberation, and environmental justice. 

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