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Art & Life with Sophia Allison

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sophia Allison.

Sophia, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I have been interested in making art for as long as I can remember. I am fortunate that my family has always been very supportive of this; my mom likes to tell an anecdote of how she let 3-year old me draw a “mural” on the outside of our apartment walls in Virginia. I’m sure the neighbors were amused, but the landlord probably wasn’t. I have stayed a messy maker of stuff ever since.

I went to undergrad at Brevard College in Brevard, NC and later completed a BFA in painting at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC. After a few years in Richmond, VA, working at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and maintaining a studio and exhibition practice, I attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, continuing to study and produce painting and drawing. I took a teaching position at Hastings College Art Dept. in Hastings, Nebraska.

During this time, I later became interested in creating art from found and domestic materials and taught myself how to sew and construct works from non-traditional art mediums. We moved to Los Angeles in 2003, and I continued to experiment with a wide range of materials to create sculptures, collage and installations.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
For about a decade, I have predominantly worked with paper materials (traditional, consumer packaging, cardboard, etc.) in some way, shape or form, creating installations, sewn works and sculptures based on exterior and interior/personal landscapes. Initially, the work I created was based upon landscapes from my hometown in. For about a decade, I have predominantly worked with paper materials (traditional, consumer packaging, cardboard, etc.) in some way, shape or form, creating installations, sewn works and sculptures based on exterior and interior/personal landscapes.

Initially, the work I created was based upon landscapes from my hometown in Western North Carolina, and the Blue Ridge Mountains and childhood memories figured heavily in my art. I began to turn my attention to LA’s various landscapes; on a clear day, I can see the San Gabriel mountains from my studio, and I often take long walks through my Los Feliz neighborhood, noting the various floral and fauna- the colors, shapes and textures. These elements have inspired my work. The last few years, I began to create my own handmade paper from found materials-old drawings, books and so forth- pulping these in blenders.

I built my own molds and deckles to pull paper sheets from the pulp. I was fortunate to receive a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant last year which allowed me to upgrade my materials and purchase better equipment to assist in my studio practice. The skin of some of my sculptures is created from handmade paper sheets created using recycled materials, cotton and abaca pulps and local plant elements that I process and add to the paper pulp. Once dried, the handmade paper is ripped into strips then overlayed onto a wooden armature to create an undulating form.

My most current sculptures are excavations and relics of internal landscapes, the remnants from emotionally charged moments in interpersonal relationships. These works are made from wet pulp that I pile, push, poke and prod together, sometimes onto wood bases, then wrap in the thread and slather with acrylic paint and gel. Layers of this media combination are added or subtracted as needed. As the sculptures dry, the shapes of the works shift, shrink and change.

In your view, what is the biggest issue artists have to deal with?
Finding and maintaining an artist community contributes to a large part of artistic growth; this helps in being connected to and informed about opportunities whether these be exhibitions, competitions, grants, employment or just having people over for studio visits to discuss your work openly and honestly. The gallery and commercial art world continues to shift and change (as always), and artists have found the time and again that they cannot rely on these systems alone to support them financially or otherwise. It is incredibly important to reach out, keep in touch with our fellow artists, support, encourage, make our own opportunities.

On that note, this past spring I started a crit group; we meet monthly and have had some wonderful discussions regarding the work viewed and where everyone is at in their artistic lives.

Additionally, I re-started my project Parlor:

Parlor is a series of exhibitions that I organize bi-monthly, feature three or more artists in my home. Artists are encouraged to use my apartment in a way to create a unique presentation of their new or existing work. Recently, artist Paul W. Evans curated a group exhibition of small works on my refrigerator! I encourage everyone to come out to my next Parlor exhibition on Sunday, August 19, 3-5pm. There will also be on in October and December as well. Anyone may email me for more details.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I will have (3) paper sculptures in the Brand 46: Works on Paper exhibition at the Brand Library Art Center galleries from September 8-October 6, 2018.

Additionally, people may participate in my Indivisible Project. I started this project almost immediately after the Nov. 2016 presidential election. I am asking people from all over the world to create a 12″ x 12″ square of art, writing or a combination of these that addresses one of the following: Unity, Civility, Morality, Humanity, Hope, Decency, and/or Humor. The completed square I gave to me, and I document it, posting it on my blog and Facebook page.

I have collected around 200 squares from all over the country from artists, non-artists, adults and children. The project has been shown twice in Los Angeles (at LACE -Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions) and the Moorpark College Art Gallery. I am looking for more locations in which it can be displayed. More info can be found on my blog and Facebook.

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