Thursday, July 24, 2014

Elena Lavorato Gets to Know Exhibiting Artist Sophia Heymans


Can you give me a brief description of your work?

Each landscape painting in my new series represents one month of the year and attempts to express a Minnesotan’s personal relationship to nature within that month.  I often think about the style as layering the figurative narrative of American Folk Art on top of the textural assemblages of Abstract Expressionism. There is a lot of wild and fast-paced surface build-up and then more controlled figures added later. To me, each painting is a different character and I am making a big family of 12.

Do you feel there is some advantage to depicting a scene from an angled aerial perspective?
March (detail)

The reason I choose an aerial perspective is because I want to show as much of the landscape as I can. I want the viewer to see everything that is happening all the way back to the horizon with nothing obscuring the view. Because of this perspective my paintings can become a giant stage for interactions between plants, landmarks and people. I give a much bigger role to the land than the sky in my paintings. I don’t have much interest in portraying the sky in paintings because compared to land/earth I think it lacks personality. For me, a very small amount of sky is enough to get the idea across.

How do you use paper mâché in your work? For texture?

I use it for texture but it also works as a composition tool. I place chunks of paper mâché (and other textural materials such as string and seeds) down first on the canvas before I use any paint and they become obstacles to work around which helps keep the composition from getting stale or predictable.


How did you come to use dryer lint with paint?

I first used dryer lint in college. I saw a pile of it in the trash in the laundry room of my dorm building and each piece was a different color from a different load of laundry. I thought “I could use that”. I don’t use it as much anymore because I don’t live in a place with a big laundry room, but I highly recommend it as a material. It almost always has a really interesting color or mix of colors that is hard to make with paint.

Thinking about what these scenes are, a prairie or a park, these are places that are normally depicted as serene or peaceful, but in you paintings there seems to be elements of chaos. Is this correct?

Yes, I think about chaos a lot. I like to play around with order/disorder. For instance the composition may be arranged tidily in a large circle but the plants making up those arrangements are strangely shaped, overgrown or laying dead in the snow.  I do believe nature is chaotic which makes it demand so much awe and reverence. That is the main reason I choose to paint landscapes.

What was your first art related experience?
January (detail)

My sister and I were homeschooled through childhood and every place on our family farm was transformed into a world that really only existed in our minds: branches at the top of a tree, a cleared out space in a cornfield, an empty bathtub, a colorful rug. They were all different settings in our highly intricate play world. I grew to understand that people could not see these places the same way we did. When I tried to tell my parents about them with my words they responded with very little interest.  I went looking for a different way to convey what I saw and experienced to others and I am still doing that to this day through painting. My sister must have felt the same way because she became an artist too. 

For more information on Sophia Heymans visit HERE
And more about the exhibition opening August 2nd HERE.