upper waypoint

Conjuring Our Ancestral Spirits Through Art

Save ArticleSave Article
Failed to save article

Please try again

Sydney Cain aka Sage Stargate, at work in her studio in San Francisco's Hunters Point Shipyard art studios (Pendarvis Harshaw)

Sydney Cain uses her art to connect with her community, as well her ancestors.

By using a process of reduction, slowly moving her hands in a circular motion to move dust-sized pieces of elements, such as cobalt and graphite, around the surface of a canvas, she reveals lines, shapes and figures that tell a story of what used to be… and maybe still is in another realm.

Sydney, who also goes by Sage Stargate, is a third generation San Franciscan. She grew up in the Fillmore, and remembers it from before gentrification when it was a largely African American community.



The images that appear in her artwork often harken back to that time, or to even earlier eras in her family’s history, like the Jim Crow South.

Sydney, who is one of the Museum of African Diaspora’s Emerging Artists this year, says her work has revealed images that look like ancestors she’s never met, but older family members see the figures and instantly recognize them. It’s almost like they’re still here– both the people, and the community.

Many would call Sydney’s work “art,” but it toes the line of what one might call a spiritual practice.

Rightnowish is an arts and culture podcast produced at KQED. Listen to it wherever you get your podcasts or click the play button at the top of this page.

lower waypoint
next waypoint
Zendaya Donates $100,000 to Bay Area Theater CompanyLive Review: Madonna Gives a Master Class in ‘Eras’ in San FranciscoMarin County’s Best Late-Night Restaurant Is a Poker Room With $26 Prime RibYBCA Gallery Remains Closed; Pro-Palestinian Artists Claim CensorshipA Bay Area Rapper and Software Engineer Made an AI Album in 24 Hours‘Raymond Cooper’s Oakland’ Tells Everyday Stories of a Bygone EraSan Jose's Japantown Highlights Underground Scene With 'Photo Night'John Waters Is Making His First Film in 20 Years; Aubrey Plaza to StarSex, Violence, ‘Game of Thrones’-Style Power Grabs — the New ‘Shōgun’ Has it AllGeorge Crampton Glassanos has Pendletons, Paint and Passion