Dolores Sandoval (1937-2015)
Last summer, members of Community-University Talks had the honour of working with Dr. Dolores Sandoval and participating in her play, Coloured Pictures in Family Frames. The play was part of the month-long program, The World of Colours of Dolores Sandoval held at Espace Mushagalusa Gallery. Working with Dr. Sandoval was incredibly inspiring–she was an engaged artist and intellectual and such a generous teacher! She welcomed us into her home to share food, reasoning, and laughter; her sharp political insights were equally matched by her creativity, warmth and wonderful sense of humour.
Coloured Pictures in Family Frames is an engaging story written by Dr. Sandoval about her diverse ancestry and family histories in the U.S. and Canada. It highlights the complexity and fluidity of identity construction and the politics of naming and self determination. Being part of the cast was a fulfilling experience of community work involving inter-generational, arts-based collaboration, oral history, storytelling, music and much laughter. The play was performed in English on June 13th and in French on June 14th, 2015, both followed by engaging community discussions about Dr. Sandoval’s project and the issues raised in the play.
The World of Colours also included an exhibition of Dr. Sandoval’s visual art (photographs, paintings and drawings), works that were informed by her multiple visits to more than 30 countries in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean. Prior to this past summer, her play and artwork had also been presented elsewhere in Canada, as well as in the United States, Honduras, Belgium and France. Espace Mushagalusa Gallery in Montreal was a beautiful and ideal space to host the final showing during her lifetime, and Dolores’ friend and gallery owner Guy Mushagalusa Chigoho had the supportive, hands on approach of a dedicated cultural worker throughout the project.
We are deeply saddened by Dolores’ passing at the end of 2015 and send our condolences to her family members and loved ones. We are blessed to have known her and to have participated in her final outstanding project.
She has gone to dance with the ancestors and will remain with us always in our warmest memories. We love you Dolores.
Dr. Sandoval was a Professor Emerita at the University of Vermont, where she served as Assistant to the President for Human Resources and taught in areas of Education, Race and Culture, the Arts as well as African, Middle Eastern and Latin American Studies. She was born and in her retirement returned to Montreal, where she developed and taught a course titled “Women of Colour in Canada” at McGill University in 2003, and founded the DaCosta-Angelique Institute, Quebec’s first Black think tank with a major project to establish an immigrant museum.
Dr. Sandoval studied art at the University of Michigan and the Chicago Art Institute, held a PhD in Education from Indiana University and completed her post-doctoral work at Harvard.
In 1990, Dr. Sandoval was elected as a Vermont democratic candidate for the US House of Representatives (she was also a 1988 candidate and delegate at the Democratic National Convention). She was a Partners of the Americas Delegate to the Global Ban on Landmines: Treaty Signing and Mine Action Forum, Ottawa, 1997. She was a Trustee and Fellow of the Rhode Island School of Design, and served on the board of numerous organizations, conferences, panels and TV programs. She authored and illustrated the children’s book, Be Patient Abdul, (1996) set in Sierra Leone, and served as a Liaison Officer at the International Conference on War-Affected Children in Winnipeg 2000.