I first came to the work of the super talented Sophia Narrett via her submission to one of the past exhibits that I curated. I was immediately drawn to her use of bright happy colors in contrast with ominous images of apocalyptic like love. She combines her conceptual statement and intelligence with lowbrow objects such as silk flowers, plastic leighs and even hula hoops to create truly contemporary works that comment on society and relationships. She has proven to be an artist to watch and her work has been shown in NYC as well as across the country. Her work gets better and better and I cannot wait to see what she does next- and she is super sweet to boot. So enjoy learning more about this up and coming artist…
What is your background as an artist?
I grew up in Maryland and moved to Providence in 2007 to attend Brown University. At Brown I concentrated in Visual Art with an emphasis on oil painting. After graduating I stayed in Providence to continue my studio practice. It was during this time that I began working in embroidery, although I had never completed any formal training in fiber. Last September I began working towards my MFA in Painting at RISD.
How does working with embroidery/stitching affect the conceptual aspect of your work? What drew you to stitching?
I became interested in embroidery for primarily formal reasons. I liked the rules and possibilities it provided in terms of image making, the set palette, the linear aspect of the thread, and the separation of colors. I’ve always considered thread to be a medium that can participate in the illusionistic tradition of painting while still maintaining its own unique materiality. Of course there is a connection to the tradition of embroidery as women’s work, as well as to the feminist artists who subverted that history.
If you had to describe your work in 3 words what would they be?
Romance, Despair, Ecstasy
Can you give us a 3 sentence or less artist statement of your current body of work?
In a garden nature is choreographed to be a space of fantasy and possible transcendence, and it invites physical attempts to connect with the landscape. If our bodies are visible manifestations of our consciousness, is motion or gesture intrinsic to experiencing a feeling? If you lie down on top of that fallen tree will you feel better?
You are starting to push scale and the picture frame what has led you to this?
I love the weight of medieval tapestries. Of course they are still rectangular, but in trying to achieve the floating heaviness that they embody, I have been moving away from stretchers and frames.
Your work often has a darkness or apocalyptic feel can you speak to this?
At its most severe, my work is an effort to live in the face of nihilism. I am asking whether loving someone can give meaning to life, and if a man or woman can replace religion for another person. Can romance, glamour, and eroticism be sublime? What does a visualization of desire, hopelessness, and denial become? Does it dissolve into sadness? What’s sad enough? When do things start getting away from you? What are we living for? But the people in my images still smile.
What is your favorite thing about your studio?
I think the best part of my studio at RISD is that I am able to make a mess again, after working at home for two years. I have been using a lot of dirt in the model making, which has a way of spreading everywhere. Also it is incredible to work in such proximity to my classmates. It’s an atmosphere of constant feedback and support.
What is the next direction or step for your work?
I have recently started a model making process, making miniature figures and scenery from which to base compositions on. I have been thinking about the fiction inherent to image making, and ways in which the physical models and embroidered or painted images can continue to influence each other.
What was the last really inspiring work of art you saw and why?
Joke Schole’s I Will Stay Alert, at SHOW ROOM Gallery. The unification of different objects into porcelain, and their delicate arrangement creates such a resonant feeling both in the physical piece itself as well as in the story it conjures. And the pine cones as trees are an amazing scale shift.
What do you struggle with most as an artist?
Translating an idea into an image that is faithful to the original thought while still becoming something new that is in dialogue with its own fabrication and objectness.
What else do you spend your time doing?
Mostly I’m a workaholic and I look forward to any day that I can be in the studio uninterrupted, but I do spend a lot of time reading. And I always listen to music while I work (lately its Grimes and Lil Wayne). A lyric from a song or a passage from a novel taken out of its original context often becomes the basis from which I extrapolate a new image.
Where can we see your work?
I truly love her work and love seeing how it has developed over the past few years and cannot wait to see what she does next. Thank you so much Sophia for inviting us into your world.
Until next time keep your needle threaded.
Joetta Maue is a full-time artist, writer, and curator with a focus on the art of the needle. Her most recent body of work is a series of embroideries and images exploring intimacy. Joetta exhibits her work throughout the United States and internationally, and authors the critical blog Little Yellowbird as well as regularly contributes to Mr. X Stitch.