ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: SOHPIE PRATT
As an many in the creative industry, the words process and product spin around in my brain whirlpool style, in this is a sort of “which came first..” conundrum where there may be an obvious answer, but the question itself sends me down the drain. The work of artist and teacher, Sophie Pratt, combines these two ideas together as she forges meaning through making. Experiencing her torn, stretched, stained, and hung fabric installations, Sophie shows and tells the journey of her world colliding and connecting with others through objects, space, and time.
Sophie Pratt, “Untitled” (2017)
Image courtesy of the artist
The following images show an installation Sophie arranged in the spring of 2017. By experimenting with frozen dye and comparing the effects of dyes on natural and synthetic fabrics, Sophie gathers these materials and presents the results of what the materials can and will do under the structure of her studio research. This process involves many scientific mindsets including questioning, research, conducting experiments, accepting outcomes, reflection, and presentation.
an experimentation of unlearning and requestioning of nostalgia and acceptance.
there was the house with the water not far from it. the tides were high and low nearly at the same time. the lines in the sand remembered and kept track of the days. the air tasted of salt. the house filled its rooms with the loud noises of the waves. the small creaks couldn’t be heard. all the rooms changed once you left. they disappeared. moving from one room to the next, the last ceased to exist. was it known that they would leave? was it known the house would change? turning from boiling to ice to air then back into the fabric the dye swept up all the moments the water held. the water held a memory. the fabric tears and is stitched back up again. if the sand knew things would pass then why couldn’t i? after looking at these for so long i didn’t even learn a thing until it was me drawing back. going back in time to the last room i was in. the last age i remembered. it doesn’t exist. there are new lines now, new bodies, new houses. it is here, it was then, it will be, all at once.
acid dyes, salt, polyester fabric, cotton fabric, grommets, bungee cords, tarp
It can be seen in the difference of vibrancy: the top left image shows what happened to natural fibers dye. After melting blocks of dyed ice over the fabric, the fibers and dye have combined and are both transformed. Looking at the lower left image,with the synthetic fabric, the dye pools and sits on top of the fabric, attaching itself only to the salt in the fibers.
Sophie’s studio practice engages various fiber techniques to create layers of complexity. In her artist statement, Sophie shares, “The work is fueled by process: using a dye vat from a humidifier, freezing the vat, embroidery, performance, photography, installation, sound, and written word.” Her work often includes written, typed, or embroidered phrases that guide viewers toward understanding. These moments of language amongst larger dyed and manipulated fabrics reveal the artist’s voice connecting to the process.
The patient nature of her actions, allowing objects and gestures to represent realities, make visible the layers of context and identities. In her most recent installation, Sophie has pushed her practice further by hand making her own nails and chains used in hanging dyed cloth. These acts offer meditations on mass production, craft vs. art, and self-sufficiency. The results show dyed fabric more ripped and used, fragmented wall hangings, installed along the hallway.
“Untitled” (2017- ) process and detail
Image courtesy of the artist
This kind of layered conception is relatively new to the fibers world. In a field so often categorized as craft, Sophie’s ability to instill meaning in those processes combines ideas of production and expression.
The ICA’s 2014-2015 exhibition, Fibers: Sculpture 1960-present, guides the viewer through a path of artists working with fibers, driving the medium into new and exciting territory. Room after room, artists from around the world propelled the medium out of the home and into the gallery, creating wall pieces, sculptures, installations, videos and more. But by the end, viewers have only seen a glimpse. There remains a question of “what is happening with fibers now?” Sophie and many other contemporary fibers artists are searching and exploring for more possibilities in this medium.
Sophie completed her BFA in Fibers and Art Education in December of 2017. Her work was most recently shown in Materialism at SoWa’s Gallery @artblock.
Keep an eye for more to come from Sophie Pratt as she continues her practice. Images of Sophie Pratt’s work are gathered from the artist and her website where you can also view her teaching curriculum.