We are looking forward to Factory Mark Gallery’s next show, Un-Earthed, which features artist Sofia Plater. Sofia is an experimental sculptural artist whose work shows a deep connection with nature and concern for the effects humans have on the environment. Here are five things you should know about her:
1. Sofia first fell in love with art while at boarding school.
“The art program there was amazing,” she explains. “Since I lived there, I was in the art lab all the time, and they really let me experiment with mediums.” She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Boston College, and then to work as the art director for the New Britain Youth Museum in Connecticut. She is currently working towards her master’s degree at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University.
2. She likes to work with unusual materials.
Her process involves a lot of materials that are better known for their industrial uses than for their esthetic properties, including cement, silicone, epoxy resins, and even hot glue. She also makes use of discarded materials, including plastic byproducts left over from manufacturing processes, and plastic food containers, which she cleans and uses as molds. Her use of surprising mediums has brought gratifying responses, too. Most memorably, a granddaughter of the man who invented the hot glue gun once attended one of Sofia’s shows. She called her family to tell them, and they were all excited about Sofia’s work. They’d never imagined that his invention, originally intended to make shoes, could be used to create art.
3. Sofia is inspired by nature.
Her primary inspiration is nature—witnessing the patterns in cells or in the roots of a plant, the textures that grow there, and how everything interacts. About her art, she says, “It appears very organic. At the same time, you can tell that some of the materials are man-made, but they’re being used to replicate organic systems and the ways plants actually grow.” Her process is organic, too. Sofia says the best advice she’s been given is to “let go of the rules and let the medium do whatever it wants,” and she is guided by her unusual materials, particularly those, like cement and silicone, that are fluid at the start and congeal while she works. “I let it go with gravity, and it makes a form that I didn’t create. I let them make their own forms, and I make my placement decisions based on those.”
4. Viewing her art is an interactive experience.
The evolution of Sofia’s work took a big step forward when she discovered the epoxy resin that she now uses. Using this and other transparent components allows her to magnify objects placed under them, and to capture angles and patterns of light. This, in turn, means that the viewer’s experience of her work is changed by their movements around each piece. “My aim is to create a stimulating experience for the viewer, where they are overtaken by curiosity and the desire to get close to the work.”
5. Her work in “Un-Earthed” is inspired by a book.
Much of Sofia’s work reflects her deep love of nature and concern for what humans are doing to the environment. For her newest body of work, she was inspired by the research in Alan Weisman’s book, The World Without Us. Weisman examines the effects humans have had on the earth, and describes which of our leftovers will continue to inhabit the earth for millions of years, even if all humans disappear. “Nature will eventually take over the earth once more,” Sofia explains, “but nothing can bring the earth back to its pre-industrial purity.” Her works in this exhibit give impressions of a post-apocalyptic world, of disintegrating architecture and manmade industrial components mixed with organic, natural materials.
To learn more about Factory Mark Gallery, visit factorymarkgallery.com.