Tordella-Williams’ research focuses on the impact the past has on our present as well as labor, both personal and communal. She re-interprets materials commonly found in thrift shops, hardware stores, and recycling bins as remnants of our labor, and explores issues of social justice, identity, gender, and memory manifest in these works.

Tordella-Williams considers herself a conceptual artisan; in other words, a maker who values excellent craftsmanship as well as the importance of choosing materials and processes that represent an overarching idea. Most pieces include multiple materials chosen specifically for their connotation and ability to express an inherent meaning. For example, white cotton references America’s former reliance on slave labor to create our wealth as a nation, a common Southern crop, clothing, agriculture, and whiteness. The use of iron references industry, the metal in our blood and earth, brittleness and strength, and commonly used domestic cookware. Each material is further manipulated in the studio through performative, repetitive labor by which a process like papermaking becomes learned in the body and subsequently retained in the material of each artwork.