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Rising Stars: Meet Daniela Soberman

Today we’d like to introduce you to Daniela Soberman.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
Most creative people start out with… “I’ve always been creative. I remember doing art as a child…”, I’m no different. I grew up in Los Angeles within an immigrant family from former Yugoslavia. My father was an inventor and my mother an artist — both working-class laborers in the United States, but who had particularly interesting ways in which they viewed the world. All of those things helped shape my own worldview.

My parents wanted me to be an artist, but while in high school, I was convinced that if I tried art as a profession, I would end up resenting the one thing I loved. So I spent some years running from it, trying everything else, and although I was successful, nothing else quite fit right. I came back to art in 2021 and have never looked back.

I never went to art school, so apart from a few ceramics classes, I’m self-taught.

In 2021, I had a few lucky breaks, the first being juried into a show at the Long Beach Museum of Art, curated by museum director Ron Nelson and assistant curator Paul Loya — it was my first art exhibition ever.

The second scaling up from ceramic to polystyrene and creating a giant styrofoam city for Max Presneill, director of the Torrance Art Museum.

Once I scaled up, I never looked back.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Have I encountered struggles? Plenty. I’ve actually started looking at obstacles as the world’s way of forcing me to creatively problem-solve. If everything was easy, it wouldn’t be nearly as fun or interesting, right?

This past year has really been one of concentrating on large-scale sculptures and installations. So, one of the biggest challenges has been space for creating the work. Often I have to create them outside because it is the only space large enough to accommodate them. I end up taking over every inch of outdoor space I have plus, on occasion — every inch of outdoor space my immediate neighbors have. When the work get’s spread out for plastering, it can be quite a spectacle. It’s an art installation in itself! All of my neighbors either hate me or love me — I’m not sure they’ve decided yet, but either way, I think they get a kick out of watching the process.

On top of that, it’s me, myself, and I (except when I’m installing a show at a museum where they provide support). I create all the pieces myself, by hand without the use of assistants or fabricators — being one person creating pieces of this volume and magnitude has plenty of its own challenges and “opportunities” for creative problem-solving.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
At the very core of it, I’m a storyteller through sculpture and installation. I’m known for making architectural scale sculptures and installations that are highly emotional — but that read grim yet playful.

In my work, I’m attempting to get people to question established systems, constructs, and norms (and break them) while at the same time reminding us of our collective humanity — that we are all more similar than we are different — each one of us living through this invented/constructed system, together. I try and tackle these ideas in a fun, accessible way so that people can hear them.

The work contains layered themes — so people can access it from many different places. Coming from a background that is working-class, immigrant/first-generation American from Eastern Europe combined with a temperament that is more than a bit rebellious — I’m intentionally questioning and poking holes at established systems constructed by people to provide some semblance of control. These range from class systems, social systems/norms, dying ideologies, and established canons,

I’m most proud when I’ve connected with someone at the gut level, where they don’t even know why they’re moved, or crying, or laughing, or quiet. Then I know it’s worked.

We’d love to hear about how you think about risk taking?
Risk means different things to different people. For me, risk is an old friend. I’ve always been a bit defiant and rebellious. Tell me NOT to do something and I’ll do it 1,000 times. So bucking norms and trends, while risky for some, feels quite natural to me.

In regards to work and creative output — risk is where the magic happens. Work (and life) is far more interesting when there is a bit of space left for the unknown. For me, risk means to allow for that … to allow for the puzzle to be incomplete to allow space for the unexpected to allow for improvised moments.

The biggest risk I’ve taken in my artwork — is to have an idea for structure or installation and build it real-time onsite without previously building it before. It requires on-the-fly creative problem-solving and improvisation — until it all comes together and works. It’s like creating music. But it requires bravery to allow for the unexpected and tenacity to make sure that it works in the end.

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Image Credits

Installation shots by Robert Swanson

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