The Art of Flourish

Category: arts 220

A short series introducing many of the visual artists involved in Flourish Festival 2017.

Featured Artist: sophia bartholomew

unnamedBorn near a great lake in Ontario, and raised on the side of a mountain in the Pacific Northwest, sophia bartholomew has based her practice along a wooded river valley in New Brunswick since graduating with her BFA in 2012. Her projects cycle through physical layers, membranes, endurance, protection, genuine care, absurdity, and exhaustion.

What does it mean for you to create / showcase in a new environment, even if it’s only for a few days?

Generally I try and make artworks that reflect and respond to the situation in which they are being shown, so developing a new project for FLOURISH actually fits quite well with my overall practice. Feels to me that working to meet different people and different places on their own terms, according to their own logic (instead of confining them to your own rules and definitions) is important work to be doing… I think that’s why I choose to make art in this way.

Music festivals are a particularly noisy environment — both literally and metaphorically — and this always poses an interesting challenge for me, since most of my art comes from a pretty quiet, understated place.

That said, I do really appreciate the opportunities I’ve had to share my work with people who don’t otherwise engage with art galleries or artist-run centres — perhaps because they find these institutional spaces to be boring or intimidating, exclusive.

Participating as a visual artist in last year’s festival helped me develop a new piece of performance art, with encouragement and support from Rudi Aker, Erin Goodine, Chris Giles, Motherhood, and WHOOP-Szo, and I went on to perform an expanded version of that work at Saltbox festival in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, last November.

What have you been working on recently? Anything you’d like to showcase in this article?

This winter I’ve been artist-in-residence at The Khyber Centre for the Arts, working on a new project “Companions to the Body.” For this project, I’ve been interviewing artists, attending cultural events in Halifax, studying the Alexander Technique, and reading about human anatomy — particularly about how trauma stores itself inside our bodies.

So far, this has developed into a series of sculptural experiments — using ceramics, textiles, salt, flour, gesso, and found objects.

I’ve also been publishing new writing in one-page pamphlets (which are available online, here), and working on a new music project, Body Parts.

What are you planning for FLOURISH this year?

There are some “hairy” text sculptures I’ve been working on that I plan to use in an installation for this year’s festival.

I’m also planning to have a booth at the print & zine expo.

What excites you about FLOURISH this year?

Both Jane [Blanchard] and Stefan [Westner] have been important friends for me in Fredericton, so what’s most exciting for me is to see them succeed in this project. In particular, I admire the caring and welcoming atmosphere they seek to create for artists and audience-members alike.

Two years ago, it was amazing to watch Jane take up some ideas that got discussed in town-hall-style community meetings and really run with them. FLOURISH has grown and changed so much since then.

I’m also just excited to being back in Fredericton. I’ve been in and out of town for a lot of months now, doing art stuff, and I’m looking forward to spending some time with friends.

Anything else you’d like to mention?


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