Sophia Domeville: An Interview with the Visual Artist and Painter
The first time Sophia Domeville displayed showed talent for drawing, she was five years old. Little Sophia would draw on all the walls at her home. This dragged on to her classes in kindergarten when she was introduced to all the colors in her crayon box. She created her first piece of art then. She remembers mixing colors long enough to get the right shade of green for tree leaves, and blending her orange and yellow to make a sparkling sun, and pressing on her white crayon to add white to the sky.
The little girl who crayoned simple days out, does intricate abstract paintings these days.
Q & A
Do you remember the first time you realized that you had a true gift for painting? I didn’t realize it was something I loved until my freshmen year in high school within Mrs. Whitney’s class. While all of the other students were drawing geometric, I was experimenting with contrasting shades in adding depth to my shapes. I personally didn’t think anything of it but my art teacher Mrs. Whitney noticed. She suggested I switch my major from English to Art. Funny thing, at first writing was my passion; I created short stories in elementary school but would bind my own handmade books with ribbon and draw an elaborate illustration as the book cover. There I took Advanced Art for the next three years in high school. Honestly, this truly became my passion when I entered my first year at The College of New Rochelle, School of Arts & Science. Being away from my dad, having the room to just be myself without any restrictions, being advised by one of the best art departments I knew and just creating into the wee hours of the morning helped carve out my craft immensely. I actually still remember drawing on a six-by-six foot parchment within the halls of my dorm, feverishly creating the images that were in my head. The title of my piece was, “Black Skin, White Mask.” At the age of 18, I was discussing racism, sexism and the masks we as a people wore on a daily basis just to survive in this world within my art.
You’ve done live painting shows working with numerous organizations such as Sounds of Brazil and the Caribbean Heritage Arts Preservation Society in Philadelphia among others. Do you do some mental prepping prior to events like this? Strangely enough, I meditate and chant on a daily basis to keep my energy leveled. But I have a tendency of surveying the location, observing the people and taking a moment of silence before painting. It’s like I am in deep meditation when I create my art. Even when I am on stage this all keeps me calm and aware of my environment at the same time.
Were you like, your teachers’ best student in all your art classes? Interestingly enough, I always stood out because I never ever engaged in discussions, asked questions on how to create work, leave the class when a topic bore me or answered questions during lectures. I just wanted to create and not talk. So in a sense I was a teacher’s worst nightmare and a dream. [Laughter]
About 150 kids in Haiti benefited from art workshops that you organized during a past trip there. Last July, I returned from my trip to Haiti. I was sponsored as a teaching artist for “Art Day Celebration” (ADC), a program which cultivates and empowers impoverished and underprivileged children. They do this through the “Arts in Haiti” where we taught 150 children from three different orphanages on the power of art. It was an eye opening and rewarding experience as a female artist. Every day I was engaged in deep dialogue with the children, local Haitian artists and the ADC staff. I felt a sense of pride and purpose as a female Haitian-American artist to continue my career even more. My work was so well received by ADC that I am returning back to Haiti this year with the organization as a teaching artist to redevelop the art workshop in Haiti called, “Art on Canvas”.
Have you ever found yourself experiencing artistic block while doing a live painting? Actually, an artistic block is rare for me to experience during live painting shows. My mind works differently, I will always find inspiration in the smallest things and can create work off of the energy within the room.
Are your parents supportive when it comes to you being a woman in the arts? My parents were never supportive of my decision to pursue my career as an artist due to a number of stigmas. They felt art had no true value and that I should have pursued a much more lucrative career that created financial stability for me. I have always fought for my individuality, creativity and decisions as a woman. Most recently, I showed my mom a magazine and images I was featured in as an artist. For the first time, she seemed proud and curious about my success. So it’s baby steps—little by little.
You’re a founding member of herDIVASpot, a non-profit entity that promotes the value and self-development for young girls. Our organization seeks to cultivate and promote the value and self-development of school aged young ladies. Through mentoring, educational and cultural exposure, we aim to produce civic and socially minded, financially literate, and spiritually grounded young women. My workshop within our organization is called DIVINE in which as a teaching artist, I teach art-integrated projects and lesson plans that teach students specific skills on one’s personal value, self- identity and analyze the impact that family genealogy can have on self-worth. It is a great organization and I am so proud to be a part of.
Are there things you wished you had done differently when you first started in abstract painting? Honestly, I no longer regret anything when I started my career as an abstract painter twelve years ago. I believe everything happens for a reason, lessons are learned to make us better and open up for opportunities to present themselves.
Pablo Picasso is one of the first people think of when they think of abstract art. Has he been an influence on you? Pablo Picasso though was influential for many artists, he was not for me. I admire his work but I love and was inspired by artist Kara Walker since I was first introduced to her at age 19. I love her attention to detail, taboo topics and pushing the envelope as an artist. She forced me to look at myself as a female artist, push beyond my own personal boundaries and understand my voice in the art world.
Be sure to visit Sophia Domeville’s website HERE.