Obsessed with Adornment: StudioSophiaSophia
Local maker making waves. From Triple Cities Carousel, June 2015.
StudioSophiaSophia is a line of bright, bold jewelry, created by local artist Sophia Sophia. Working out of a basement studio in Binghamton’s Art Mission building - which she shares with her husband, visual artist Wally Dion - Sophia creates statement pieces that are a pure celebration of color and movement.
What do you make? I like to think of it as small, wearable paintings. I use really bright colors, neon, super eye-catching- not really earthy- and I use simple geometry to create compositions: whether it’s soldering shapes together, stacking, dangling shapes off other shapes- that kind of thing.
Do you want to talk about your process? It’s funny- I’ve been wanting to talk to other artists to see if this has been happening to them: I get a vision of a finished piece, before I even start. It always starts with a rough vision of a piece I want to make, and usually once I start making it, things will change in the process. It doesn’t look like the beginning; something usually changes, even if it’s like three-percent change.
How did you get led to making jewelry? I went to art school, and was an undecided fine arts major, and I took a jewelry class, and basically, the woman teaching the class was just awesome, and I was like, I want to take another class and learn from this woman. She was just super cool: in her fifties, living in New York. This was at Pratt Institute at the Brooklyn Campus. I’ve always been obsessed with adornment, and jewelry, dressing myself, but I guess when I figured out that I could make jewelry for myself, I was hooked. It was kind of a selfish thing. I thought it was so badass, and keeping up with the tradition: basically, I’m using all the same tools that were used, like, forever. I use a saw, and a file, and sandpaper, basically, and I think that’s really cool. I’m really anti the whole CAD, computer, design printable shit. So, the materials, the people who were teaching, the idea that I could make things for myself to wear, the world of functional art was kind of new to me- I had always been a painter and would draw and that kind of thing, but jewelry as an art form was really new and awesome.
You have a strong, clear aesthetic. How does one come to that? I don’t know- it’s hard to describe. I’ve always been obsessed with really loud color, pattern- a lot of it’s inspiration from textiles, which I only recently really discovered. I think my aesthetic has been the same forever. A lot of it is wardrobe-based, that translates into my jewelry somehow.
Do you have specific style icons? I mean, not so much- I have a lot of artist-icons; like, right now, I’m obsessed with Mara Hoffman, who is a fashion designer. She does really simple designs, but her fabric is insanely amazing. Just super-bright, kind of like looking into a kaleidoscope. Anything with super-bright, neon colors. It’s not for everyone. I think I have more of a style-aesthetic, rather that one person who’s an icon.
Can you describe what it feels like to create your pieces? Mentally, you just kind of go in the zone. I can get trapped with my own thoughts, but I could just sit at the bench and just make and be in my own world, which is really awesome. I find it really weird to see the finished product after I’ve seen the piece in the beginning. It’s definitely challenging at times, working with a material that is not as forgiving as you’d like it to be. Having a paintbrush in your hand is a little different than having a piece of metal that won’t bend a certain way. So there are times when it’s really frustrating, but overcoming the technical aspects is really rewarding.
Can we talk about what your pieces are meant to evoke? I think of them as self-portraits. Self-portraits are very rooted in the history of art. I was doing literal self-portraits during grad school, and after I graduated and realized: how am I going to make a living making these weird-ass self-portraits? I figured out another kind of self-portrait: they’re abstracted. I think of my work as small pieces of me. I have pieces that are more one-of-a-kind than others, and it would be hard for me to sell them to someone who I didn’t admire. Sometimes I have a hard time giving these things away because I feel so close to them.
Can you recall any specific creative challenges that led you to new discoveries? At grad school [at RISD] we had this project where we had to collect ten materials that we wanted to work with, so I made these boards of ten differentmaterials, but I color-coded them. Each board had yarn or buttons- just like, weird stuff, and they were all different colors- and my professor said, “This looks like only one material to me: your material is color.” I’ve always known I’ve been obsessed with color, but I never knew that was what I wanted my work to be. I came to terms that color was my material.
Jewelry can be found and appointments may be made by visiting studiosophiasophia.com.