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For Miami-based Danié Gómez-Ortigoza, “braiding is a spiritual practice” in that it represents unity in a time of extreme social change and, especially this past year, isolation. The Mexican-American multimedia artist’s powerful performances feature braided hair as an “exploration of rituals and ancestry,” according to her website, which ultimately helps Gómez-Ortigoza reconnect with planet earth — something she encourages her local Florida community members to do, as well.
How do you describe the work you do for your local community?
I braid people together and, as I do so, I share a message of union and understanding of all of us coming from the same braid. The same source. My message is a message of strength of the collective above the interests of the individual through my performance art, my braiding practice and my daily conversations with my audience. I also co-created an organization with Martha Graeff that unites the voices of social media influencers for good once a year, where we have raised more than $350,000 for children around the world.
What impact do you hope your work has on the people surrounding you?
I want people to recognize themselves in others and understand that we are each other’s destiny.
In what ways do you think your community needs the most support, right now?
We need to go back to nature. We need to understand that the bubble of consumerism that we’ve bought into is not taking us anywhere. We need to build deeper connections and recognize ourselves in others regardless of our packaging, which often causes so many misunderstandings.
How will you be hitting refresh as we enter the second half of this year?
I will be moving to Dallas and focusing more on art. I’ve seen the power of performance art as a conversation starter and as a seed to a deeper understanding of who we are as humans.