Salvadora McCaffrey is a transdisciplinary artist and designer native to Boston. Through a holistic approach toward art making, she produces works via various production methods and mediums to create spaces and objects for accessible experiences. Public(s), and their engagement, are tapped into to both communicate and socially experiment. Spatial theories, biographical histories, and sociopolitical excavations are critical points of discussion within her work. McCaffrey is an alumna of Boston Arts Academy and received her BFA at the School of The Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University.
Artist Statement: At 9 years old my predetermined domesticity became obtrusively apparent to me in my grandma’s kitchen. "How you gonna cook for your husband if you ain’t gonna cook bacon?" the essential matriarch Dora Lee Parham tried to rationalize with me from her seat at the kitchen table. Food was a serious subject in the Parham household; never to be wasted, always to be grateful of what the Lord gave us. Our food was, and continues to be, a byproduct of African American culinary improvisation. Soul food is a feeling. Soul food is an identity. Soul food is an insiders only club consisting of black grandmas and aunties who have 100 year old secret recipes and spice blends you spend your lifetime trying to master. For those who date their heritage back to the transatlantic slave trade of Africans, they too feel what SOUL FOOD means beyond being the physical matter of simply food. My grandma’s question was not a question, but instead a statement encapsulating a palpable point. The point, while rooted in a personal history and values I do not share with my grandma, had an underlying validity that I could not understand until 13 years later.
At 22 years old I brought home a new star to put on the tree for my grandma, this was a couple days before Christmas. That afternoon we sat in the kitchen, I fixed her a plate, and had conversations I never imagined having with her. What does it look like for a young woman and an old woman to sit together at a table sharing the more vulnerable aspects of their sexualities, identities, histories, and dreams? Over a plate of soul food produced by the hands of the younger, but authored by ancestors who knew Dora Lee Parham would continue passing down the sacred tradition that is soul food. It was this Christmas when it became my turn to prepare Christmas dinner. The kitchen was the livelihood of the house for those few days of preparation and cooking.
Perhaps it is in this third space where sociality is heightened. The physical and mental capacities of space can merge where we can feel a sense of autonomy in our bodies and with our people. Freedom lives in a kitchen where a grandma taught her granddaughter the value of bringing something to the table to bring people together.