Sandra Dudley has been influential in connecting a number of New Yorkers with intellectual and other developmental disabilities to the craft of weaving. And in doing so, Sandra connected with an important mentor in her life, Cynthia Alberto, formerly of Weaving Hand in Brooklyn.
Originally from Detroit, Sandra came to New York to become an actress, landing some acting roles and a few commercials. She is also a dancer and toured the world with a Brazilian dance group. After an injury sidelined her from her dancing career, she went to school to become a graphic designer. She graduated from Lehman College with a BA in Fine Arts at what Sandra says was ‘a later age in life.’
After graduation, Sandra began working at AHRC NYC (Advocacy Humanity Rehabilitation Change) as a community habilitation professional. Her clients are people who have psychiatric issues ranging from bipolar to schizophrenia and part of her job was taking them out into the community for activities. Sandra was in Brooklyn with a group of clients and saw Cynthia Alberto, from Weaving Hand. When she took her first group of clients to Weaving Hand, Sandra was amazed at how they took to weaving. “I loved it - watching them and seeing the expressions on their faces,” she says. Sandra has observed how a number of her clients felt the soothing effects of weaving, and notes “it’s amazing that every studio that deals with this population all have weaving looms.”
Sandra then started taking classes with Cynthia, whom she considers to be her mentor. Some of the wisdom Cynthia has imparted to Sandra: “Just keep plowing through. Don’t keep restarting. Everybody makes mistakes, and if they had to keep restarting, nothing would be seen. You gotta learn to work through the mistakes.”
Sadly, Cynthia Alberto was recently diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer and Weaving Hand is now closed. Sandra encourages us to visit Cynthia's Go Fund Me page. “She’s a part of the community…She’s really a very talented woman who graced everybody with open arms...She was very inclusive with my population, which I loved.” Sandra appreciates that Cyntia included her clients in art shows and as a result, "My clients got to see a whole different world. It was a really great opportunity for my clients.” Sandra adds, “Thank you Cynthia for sharing your light to a population that would otherwise be overlooked. I am forever grateful for your encouragement and support.”
Sandra has connected so much with weaving, she got rid of her television and now uses that space for her looms. Sandra’s style is free-form, and she finds weaving to be very soothing and relaxing. “For me personally, it means a way to express myself and create that artist inside me that for all of my life has been dying to get out in some way, shape, form or another," Sandra tells Katy. "And I’m happy that I’m able to do it in this field. I wish I could have gotten to it a lot sooner, but hey, there’s nothing like the present.”
When Sandra joined the NY Guild, she says, "It opened up my eyes a lot… It means a lot to me. It’s a way for me to connect with people. See people who I probably would never have known. It helps me to expand my own resources, and get out of being shy about it.”
At first, Sandra wasn't sure about being featured in the Member Spotlight. “I was going to turn this down… I’ve seen some of the work that some of the other Guild members have done and I’m like, I don’t want to do this, I’m still a beginner. But I did this more so for my mentor, it was a way to talk about her, and also to show my work. It is what it is. Who knows where I’m going to be at two years from now.” We look forward to seeing you progress on your path, Sandra!
Watch Membership Chairperson Katy Clements' interview with Sandra here:
Please visit Cynthia Alberto’s Go Fund Me page at: https://gofund.me/3cdb77d7
Some of the other influential weavers Sandra mentions:
Molly Elkind https://mollyelkindtalkingtextiles.blogspot.com
Rebecca Mezoff https://rebeccamezoff.com