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BSDA Artist Interview: Sophia Flood

May 7th, 2015 · 1 Comment

We launched yet another great show on Buy Some Damn Art by Sophia Flood. I was lucky enough to visit Sophia’s Brooklyn studio (on foot) – a luxury I don’t always have. The great thing about studio visits is that you always walk away with a slightly different impression of the work. You’re also more likely to be influenced by outside factors – the locale, how well the AC works, how the work is displayed, the artist’s stuff! Upon seeing the work in person I left with the impression that these paintings had a very unique, slightly unsettling quality: the colors were at once deep and bold and faded. The artist aptly describes this quality in the interview that follows as “a dark light”.

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Your Fountain

Where are you from originally and where do you live now?

I grew up in Ipswich, Massachusetts. I moved here to Brooklyn a few years ago from Wisconsin, where I went to grad school for painting.

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Glass House

You work out of a shared studio space with a few other artists in Gowanus, Brooklyn. What’s the studio experience like post-art school?

It took some getting used to—I came into my current studio after years of working in solo spaces. I’ve always been somewhat private about my work, and really valued my four walls and door as both a mind set and spatial set for an evolving activity. But here, I’ve found studio mates are indispensable. There are no guaranteed visitors and it can feel oddly isolating to live in a huge place. We’re all close outside the studio so there is a built-in ease working together, yet we tend to keep different hours and everyone respects the need for solitude. It forces me to clean up after myself, too. That’s probably good for me.

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The Bottom

There are a lot of deep blues and greens in these paintings. What was the inspiration or intent behind this color palette?

My understanding of color has been changing, moving from working with found color (in found materials) to mixing color in paint. The selection process now has less to do with pointing to a color, declaring my affection for this peach or that blue, and more to do with relationships between colors that create an atmosphere or world. Specifically in these paintings, there’s a dark light that I want to articulate. A friend called it dusk; when something is visible yet slipping away. It’s an emotional space reverberating in the physical world. Other reference points include the shuffled shapes of my apartment at night, empty nightclubs, objects in a neon-lined window, and the back-lit, lifted-off darks in certain Vuillard paintings.

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Your work is mostly abstract, but not completely. How would you describe the kind of paintings you make? Does it matter to you if they are considered abstract or figurative?

It’s funny, I really don’t think of my work as abstract, even though I recognize it reads that way. I guess what’s important to me is that it sits on the line, it can shift back and forth. When I begin a painting, I have a certain image in mind, but I have to lose track of it in order to find anything interesting. And I never set out to control what a viewer sees. What excites me is when a painting reveals itself slowly, within the picture plane but also in the mind or memory. There is something specific or palpable and you might never know what it is for the painter, but the unfolding process can create a parallel experience.


You sometimes show sculpture along with your paintings, pieces that are fairly amorphous and ambiguous. What are these pieces and how do they fit in with the paintings?

Sculptures and sculpture-painting hybrids actually predate these paintings. I’ve always had a strong interest in materials; even in my painting, before the imagery is imagery it is often an experience with a tangible space or object. My current sculptures are both outlets for this material investigation and elaborated parts of the paintings. I try to work on both at the same time, figuring out color and form in these two separate yet connected planes. When shown together, I hope for the sculptures to act as markers. Like signposts, headstones, rocks, steps, or stumps they grow up from the ground and delineate a space.


Read / view more about the artist on Great Big Iceberg.