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Fierce Layers

To and Fro, mixed media, by Fierce Sonia. Winner of the Anne Banks Collage Award.
To and Fro, mixed media, by Fierce Sonia. Winner of the Anne Banks Collage Award.

Fierce Sonia is an artist who’s been with The Art League for a long time. You might remember her work from the 2010 solo exhibit “Paper Dolls” (reviewed by Lenny Campello). If you’ve been a student, she might even have been your model back in the day! This summer, you can catch her in Studio 7 in the Torpedo Factory.

Sonia’s art career started with photography, and she has added layers — literally and figuratively — as time goes on. The collage above, To and Fro, won the Anne Banks Collage Award in this month’s Open Exhibit, and we asked the artist to tell us about it:

What was your goal with To and Fro?
Fierce Sonia: Repeating interlocking figures across a page in balanced dancing “paper doll” pattern. I was elated with the hair element, “Fro.” The hair element is the “wig” that fits over the figure on the far left side.

What materials did you use in this collage?

  • String
  • Collage materials from large format “W” magazines. I like working with these pages because they are 13″ tall. I have been limited by the width of my printer. Also, they frame nicely in a standard frame 16″ × 20″. Fashion magazines are brimming with female figures.
  • Print of the cow skull woman image
The cow-skull self portrait image appears in other Fierce Sonia collages, such as this one from her 2010 solo exhibit.
The cow-skull self portrait image appears in other Fierce Sonia collages, such as this one from her 2010 solo exhibit (in the top center).

What does the central image — the figure with the skull — mean to you?

  • Self portrait
  • I love the “S” shape of the figure, undeniably female
  • Balance of contrasts
  • Animal/human
  • Hard/soft
  • Death/life
  • Black white
  • Morbid and hopeful
New work by Fierce Sonia
New work by Fierce Sonia

As someone who started out in photography, how has your artistic practice changed over time? What other media do you work in?
My very first images were fairly straightforward black-and-white nude self portraits inspired by my modeling experiences with The Art League. I craved a more painterly aesthetic and experimented with printing the photographs on painted surfaces for the texture and marks.

This idea opened me up to printing on a variety of surfaces. Magazine pages and white paint gave way to collage and colors as I gained control and courage over a process that can still sometimes feel magical. I continue to be inspired by the artists I work with. My palette layers and subjects can shift from season to season but my voice has stayed feminine and figurative as I create narratives with abstractions.

New work by Fierce Sonia
New work by Fierce Sonia

When and why did you first commit to being an artist?
I was modeling with The Art League and was inspired by the figurative work the artists created. I was pretty naive when I decided to shoot self portraits, thank goodness! If I knew how hard it would be I might not ever have started on the long path. I cabled my camera to a TV so I could compose and light myself, and triggered the shutter with an infrared remote.

What are you working on now?
I love that multimedia has allowed me to continue to grow so much as an artist. I can chase ideas and experiment with new materials as interests evolve.

I’m creating my most current works in studio 7 at the Torpedo Factory. This summer, my work is a series of female figures built on colorful collage and acrylic paint elements. I’m consciously creating a bright, positive, dreamy world for my paper dolls, my girls.

The June Open Exhibit is open through Sunday, July 3.

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