ArteEast is pleased to present an interview with artist Sofia Zubi as part of our Artist Spotlight.
Sofia Zubi is an artist, illustrator, and author currently based between New York and New Jersey. Originally from Newport Beach, California, The subject of Sofia’s work has been both personal and symbolic, inspired by actual experiences and dreams. Sofia started her visual diary series in 2013, during her studies at Pratt Institute. Her body of work has since evolved into a narrative journey, illustrating the Princess as an illusive spectacle of herself. Sofia’s drawings and paintings tell stories through invented and historical symbolism, examining portals of literature, philosophy, and multicultural folktales.
Although predominantly a painter, Sofia recently took this last year to write and illustrate her first novel, Sawdust, and has made wearable sculpture dresses for the 2019 Scene to Be Seen wearable runway show in Naples, Florida.
AE: What has your practice/ career focused on during the past five years? How have you evolved or changed your work with the challenges and/ or opportunities of the past few years in the contemporary global art world?
SF: For the last five years I’ve been focused on creating a visual diary within my body of work. These artworks serve as portals into a new world that has naturally developed on its own, starting from one drawing I completed in Upstate, NY, in 2013. As I look back, each work is a story within the timeline of my life. It’s a process of examination, understanding, and documentation. Who are we without the knowledge of our pasts? Each artwork is evolving and growing along with the changes I’m experiencing as a young woman. I’m always wanting to experiment and try something new with the next piece I create. I feel as though the creative process is a journey of discovery that’s dauntingly endless. As artists, as we finish one piece, we have the next to begin, therefore, we will never really be done.
My work at the start began as something very free flowing. It was as though I was constantly experimenting to understand and find my mark that would define me. Today my work has become more consistent yet still holds a quirky characteristic that is a result of my process. I create from my imagination – leaving my mind to wander to serendipitous places. I enjoy making mistakes and the imperfections create excitement. The challenges I’ve faced this last year included not having the space to create as large as I may have wanted to, in a small Brooklyn apartment and working a full time job. I forced myself into something new and worked daily for a year straight on my novel, Sawdust. This book, filled with poetic metaphors and vibrant illustrations, has guided my body of work to this day. I’ve been fascinated with storytelling. The great thing is,that the visuals within my work will be interpreted differently from person to person. It’s all subjective and never concrete or certain. I’ve let go of the pressures of having to stick to one medium. I started sewing for the first time this year, making wearable sculpture dresses, worked on my first 8×50 ft. mural, and completed my first book. I believe as artists, we must adapt to our surroundings and it doesn’t matter what we are creating or how – as long as we are doing the work.
AE: What are you currently working on or considering?
SF: At the moment I’ve been working on a new series of self portraits ever since the quarantine began. I’ve been examining intimate moments within my studio; the can of used paint brushes, my dog’s gaze while I work, the marks of paint scattered around the floor, or the light through the window. I’ve noticed more lately how the objects that surround me are frozen symbolic memories. Also looking at myself in a mirror while I work and taking the time to see my features and what makes me me has been a different approach. I’ve been painting my freckles, scars, long dark hair and red lips seeing these features as recognizable signatures to who I am. I’ve completed four self portraits so far and intend to continue until it feels right.
AE: How, if at all, have you been making use of this time of self-isolation? Have there been any creative gains or challenges?
SF: I believe that an artist’s life often feels like quarantine. It hasn’t felt much different to me- the only thing I’ve appreciated more than ever is a simple trip to a museum or art show and being surrounded by friends and family without the anxiety we’ve been experiencing. I’ve been keeping busy and working endlessly on creating, cooking, planting, and hiking in nature with my dog. The simple things are making me happy right now and I’ve had time to think a lot about what I need to do creatively. I’ve also been enjoying experimenting with wood cuts and selling affordable prints to people who have always wanted my work.
AE: What have you given thought to doing or creating once the global pandemic subsides?
SF: I’m craving a feeling of togetherness again. I know we all have been focusing more so on social media and connecting through technology but there is a huge importance on capturing real authentic moments. People are being more creative than ever right now because we have finally no excuse about not having the time! There is going to be an immense birth of artwork coming out of this time and I think it’ll be important for curators and artists to create spaces and experiences for people to go to and feel a part of when this is all over. This is a time to plan something impactful. Remember, after the plague came the Renaissance – I believe that this time is a jolt in the world and world of art, that we needed.
SOFIA ZUBI online: