My work, which swings between intimate and public, sensual and grotesque, is my way of both processing and crafting my experiences and my self. Through my work I come to terms with personal, cultural and familial mythologies and navigate the blessings and curses of being a body in this world. In my multi-media practice I explore and expose parts of myself that normally remain hidden --secrets, traumas and inner yearnings-- and in doing so, I transmute their powers. My conviction is that none of us are as alone or confined as we can feel.
My work is often about making messes and cleaning them up; pouring food all over myself and then washing it off, painting and collaging until the floor is littered with scraps and goo and then corralling it all into manageable forms, ultimately mimicking my inner process of searching for order in chaos and meaning in a meaningless world.
tell us about the first substance / food / etc you photographed yourself in. how did that come about?
My work has always been about making messes and cleaning them up. Once, when I was sixteen, I covered my whole body in acrylic paint and rolled around on a canvas. The result was not pretty, but the long shower afterwards has always been part of the attraction for me.
what was the setting for your first self-portrait(s)? how do you feel about it/them now?
My interest in self-portraiture definitely started in the black and white analog photobooths of my childhood. I started making art in photobooths when I was fifteen and the obsession continues. This March, I will be showing my full collection of photobooth self-portraits for the first time in a group show in Detroit at the Center Galleries. With each photobooth strip hung side by side, the collection is over 23 feet long.
how does your family respond to your work, if at all?
I'm so grateful to have a very supportive creative family.
when you hit a roadblock, what is your favorite thing to do? (take a walk? chug gallons of coffee? dance naked around your living room?)
Let myself get bored and try to be patient. Boredom can often be the first step on the way to a really good idea.
do you have an affinity for other creative pursuits?
All my pursuits are creative.
I draw, paint, take photos, make videos, and write every morning for one hour.
how does your hometown / city influence your work? do you feel supported by community there?
I grew up in New York City. I can't really imagine not being surrounded by art and diversity and weird stuff. I think people who don’t come from a jam-packed metropolis and still emerge as these wild funky people are much more impressive.
tell us a story about a work you made that remains very important to you.
When I was 17 or 18 I went through all my old paintings from earlier adolescence and threw them in a dumpster. I had come to loathe them and felt deeply embarrassed by their existence. I would love to see those old paintings now!
are you self taught or did you learn from classes?
I am a very hands-on person and have never had the patience to learn things properly with manuals or books. I probably don't do a lot of things the technical right way.
as a self-portrait artist, do you work mainly alone, or do you have help creating your work?
My husband is also an artist and musician and we help each other on a lot of our projects. It's really nice having someone around who really understands my specific way of working. He can usually help me manifest my vision even before I'm able to articulate it clearly.
Sofia Szamosi is from New York City where she currently lives and collaborates with her husband Johnny Siera (The Death Set, Tiger Tooth). Sofia studies self-portraiture at Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU, and is currently writing and illustrating her first children's book. Sofia has shown in group and solo exhibits at Open Source Gallery, Superchief Gallery and Proto Gallery in New York and the Center Galleries in Detroit. follow her on instagram.
[correction: our February newsletter incorrectly described Sofia as NYC-born; she was born in SF.]
© Sofia Szamosi 2016