We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Angelica Sotiriou a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Alright, Angelica thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. Did you always know you wanted to pursue a creative or artistic career? When did you first know?
I knew I would live my life as a creative early on in my life. As a child I was truly an empath. I was a keen observer. All of my childhood memories are framed by what I was feeling and sensing at the time. My most profound memories and significant remembered images would and are triggered by a smell, a sound or even the specific light of day. From the years of my early education, I was always a timid student. I was a wiz at math, reading and abstract thought but froze when having to participate or share to others…I could write and convey those thoughts. My writing as a child was very descriptive, very visual. My world was what I sensed, what I saw…conversations were not often remembered but the setting of the moment in time was a seared memory. In grade school, at home and high school…I was blessed to have a few thoughtful teachers who knew they could include me by handing me paper and paint, clay and tools or just a sharpened pencil and a clean sheet of drawing paper. I am grateful that I had those mentors that paved the way to give me voice as a creative. I haven’t stopped since those very early days drawing, painting, observing, listening and creating works that have been the product of pure alchemy of heart, of soul and of spirit…and an earnest need to share what I see and how I see…and to concurrently teach others how to access the creative process. I have been creating my art professionally for fifty years, and of those years of making art, for forty five years of those years, I chose to teach others the alchemy of creating works of art that give them their most authentic “voice”.
Angelica, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
I never stopped making works of art. I had a wonderful arts education culminating in a Masters of Fine Arts from UCLA. I was always transfiguring my interior self into a series of paintings, cast paper sculptures and drawings. I never stopped experimenting with color, acrylic paint, graphite and mixed media. I have always allowed the many stages of my daily life, my spiritual life and the turn of events in our world, to impact my created, completed works. My works invite the viewer into my created space on my canvas. Each work beckons the viewer to step closer into their own interior space through the portal of my very large works. Each work is an average size of 7′ x 4’…works that intentionally ask the viewer to become smaller, less ego more spirit, allowing themselves to set aside their intellectual machinations and to surround themselves in the ethers of the painted space. I intentionally use multiple layers of transparency, glazes that use interference powders, to refract light…to expose under the layers hidden shapes, words/symbols and energetic textures. I work much in the same process that of ancient Byzantine iconography. I start out with a very dark painted surface and slowly build layers to bring out or excavate a discovery of brilliant light. Sometimes there are recognizable signposts i.e., a horizon line, a tree limb, a human shape that add to the spatial depth of the ten layers of acrylic transparencies and gold leaf. The works become a “place”, much like the vagueness of memory of childhood, a remembered place that is just out of reach, never to be fully defined or contained. My works allow the viewer to sit and discover and continually rediscover nuances of a work they will never fully understand until they explore their own interior landscape and sacred quietude.
Can you share a story from your journey that illustrates your resilience?
One key word for choosing the path of a “creative”…is persistence. Much like a determined dog with a bone! Never give up. Never stop working on your craft. Refine your skill continually, refine your vision. Be a life long learner. Trust your intuition. Find ways to use your gift in non-traditional ways to make your living and pay your rent. Never stop making your art…shield yourself with a solid self awareness and and an educated, well honed skill base. I was raised in a very traditional, first generation immigrant home. Being an artist was not an option especially as a child of the 50’s. I was to marry, cook, clean, raise children and to be a subordinate…all are good and valued, but, I realized I wanted to be more than just “that”. It was still in a time where women were not considered equal to the men in the same field. Burning bras had just made the front page. It not an easy time for women artists, it was not easy to find gallery representation, or equal footing in the art world. I often wonder just what-if I was a man and not a woman in the art world…would it have been easier for me to succeed? I will never know. But, I follow in the footsteps of many women writers, artists who came before me. I understand why George Eliot, the Bell Brothers, George Sand, Artemisia Gentileshi, Judith Leyster, Marie-Denise Villers, Caroline Louisa Daly changed their names…ah, and the tragic ending to Camille Claudel…each one determined to pursue their gifts. Times are better now better, but there are still residual and invisible boundaries.
My advice to young women artists is to never stop following your passion and using the gifts you were given. Share your joy and enthusiasm with many and with those you mentor…and always find time to refine and rediscover your core esthetics. Be an advocate for other struggling artists and be a life long learner…Be humble but, be incredible.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of being a creative in your experience?
I have been so rewarded to be involved in the Arts. To be a part of the “Tribe of Artists” in our world becomes a healing salve in a time in our world where there is so much division and chaos. To hear a symphony, to observe a dance choreography, to hear a voice sing notes that make me cry, to walk into a gallery retrospective of a late career artist and be brought to tears, to read a poem…not once but multiple times and want to read it again so it never leaves me….These are but a few of the reasons I am grateful to be a “creative”. The artist, the creative, can transform the most mundane and most painful into Beauty. Is it not Dostoevsky who said, paraphrasing his words, “Beauty will save the world.” The artist, the Creative, gives hope and reframes that which often can be destructive and counter productive. The artist continually transfigures us by their authentic vision realized.
- Angelica Sotiriou Featured in ShoutOut LA
- Through a Glass Darkly Series, 2022-2023