[Originally published here.]
Today we’d like to introduce you to Angelica (Sotiriou-Rausch).
Hi Angelica (Sotiriou-Rausch), we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I am an artist and a “creative”. I have known no other voice as far back as I can remember. I have been a professional studio artist for 45 years and I have dedicated my life focus on the Arts. I had a wonderful visual arts education and incredible mentors along the way. I received my Masters of Arts and my Masters of Fine Arts from the University of California at Los Angeles during the 1970’s (studying with Lee Mullican, Sam Amato, Laddie John Dill, Robert Heineken and all of the women artists that have come before me.) It was a seminal decade in the Arts and was a renaissance of creativity. It was a fascinating era that shaped my arts sensibilities as a woman finding voice through her art. I have been a Teaching-Artist for 46 years. I have been committed to sharing and mentoring the incredible process of creating artworks, seeing through the artist-lens and art-as-career to students from University, Museum Education programs, Outreach programs, At-risk programming and public and private elementary level throughout Los Angeles County.
I am very grateful that I had a career in Arts Education that supplemented my commitment to being a dedicated studio artist. I have created an extensive body of work that has been exhibited over the last four decades in museums, colleges, galleries, places of worship and in private and public venues internationally and nationally. angelicasotiriou.com
My keen sense of color, composition and conceptual narratives in my works has holistically grown from the depths of my childhood upbringing and embedded experiences. I grew up working the acres of flower fields of our wholesale-flower family business. We leased local virgin-soil-fields in the South Bay where we raised our crops of hybrid King Asters. In the flower fields, the rhythm of seasons was liturgical from incarnation to resurrection. To be immersed in the changing cycles of the crops was a daily transfiguring. Each flower was understood as God’s Energies and early on formed my definitive aesthetics of Beauty and my embedded sense of God’s presence.
Intense Color, Awe and Wonder, Mystery and Unseen, Contemplative, Majestic, brilliant Light have been the journey of each deliberate brushstroke on my canvases. My process of creating my works is reflective of the ancient Byzantine iconography process. The works start out with the darkest color and continue with the sequenced fifteen layers of pigment to finish with the lightest color, often white. My works deal with seeking Light. I use interference powders in my transparent and translucent layers to refract light so that the viewer is in a constant relationship with my works. I often see the patrons who are viewing my works in the gallery, moving from left to right to standing close and then stepping back to view my works. When viewing my works the status of the many transparent layers of color change with the natural daylight or overhead gallery lights. Images, shapes and layers of hidden colors are revealed as the perspective and the lighting change. My works are large. The average size is six feet by four feet and often by design, are larger. The process of working in a larger format is often humbling and leaves me relinquishing control and sensing my own smallness. The works become portals, a stepping-into the works themselves. The works are a choreography between the artist’s hand and the artist’s heart. Creating my works becomes for me an intimate relationship.
“I don’t know how
But suddenly there is no darkness left at all.
The sun has poured itself inside me
From a thousand wounds.”
– Nikoforos Vretakos
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Wow, now that is a great reflective question. The challenges and lessons are many. I was raised in a first-generation Greek immigrant home. It was a loving home, but roles were defined and written in stone. Women were to be quiet, relinquish power to the patriarch, serve others, have their betrothed chosen and marry and have children and stay home. My wonderful father passed away when I was just barely a teenager…And with his passing went some of the definitive norms of my culture. I was the youngest child to older parents. There was pain and there was freedom, in that order. I was a bit of pistol and would push against my cultural norms. As years went by, my family accepted that I wanted to be an artist. I married my best friend and advocate, had two beautiful sons and continued making and teaching art. It was not easy. No not at all. I did my best wearing all the hats expected of women…and hopefully, I will be forgiven where I may have neglected going to my son’s Little League Game that Saturday when I was teaching at LACMA. The art world then and still is a “good-ol’-boy club”…it is not an easy path to take. Our culture says it supports the artist but often times the product becomes a commodity of exchange. The artist, all the while desires more than anything to sit in silence making beauty in their studios. The role of choosing to be an artist is always a fragile balance. Would I take this path as an artist again? I would have it no other way.
My advice to young artists has always been…Constantly learn about your craft, whether it be the history, the tools and or the available new materials and medias. ALWAYS show up and do the work…NEVER stop making your art, whether it be in the garage after tucking in your children to bed, in a sketchbook between night shifts, early in the morning before the rest of the world wakes up and distracts your creative process with their unrelenting chatter. Know your personal truth. Do your work exceeding well. Be consistent with your creative vision. I recently was given notice to vacate my beautiful loft studio of 20 years. I had a space that many envied. But a day did not go by that I was not grateful, sincerely grateful. I was a part of an arts community that accepted my determined focus to work in silence and alone. But…I am being asked to begin again…to set up my studio in a smaller space and reestablish a new or not arts community five decades later. You asked, has it been smooth? The rhythm and the continuum of time creating my art was the zone, the part that was easy and a part of my life as necessary as much as breathing is. You CANNOT choose to NOT be an artist. It is who you are. It defines you and every life choice you make.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
Without Art this world would not exist. Art DOES save and heal in a multitude of ways. We would not know who we are, where we came from, where we are going or our sense of place if not for the arts. I have a favorite quote by Katherine Anne Porter. It has been on my wall for the past 50 years to remind me of why I do what I do. “The arts do live continuously, and they live literally by faith; their names and their shapes and their uses and their basic meanings survive unchanged in all that matters through times of interruption, diminishment, neglect; they outlive governments and creeds and the societies, even the very civilization that produced them. They cannot be destroyed altogether because they represent the substance of faith and the only reality. They are what we find again when the ruins are cleared away.” Read that again…
I have no greater joy than when my work hangs in the home, the church, the spa, the educational institution, the retreat center. I love to look at the contemplative gaze of the new owners of my works. It is a savored moment. As they stand looking at my work, I feel connected to them…it is an overwhelming feeling of being silently “seen” and soulfully understood.
Can you talk to us a bit about happiness and what makes you happy?
What makes me happy? I suppose it is the ability to have a grateful heart in all things. I find great joy in being amid beauty whether it be in the canopy of the Redwoods, a beautiful work of art, the visceral sound of listening to a cello, sharing a meal with others, serving others with no intended outcome, coming home, knowing my loved ones are happy, being authentically “seen” and valued for who I am, to be surrounded in Sacred Quietude, to give love and to be loved, to truly forgive those who have wounded me and to have a vision of an intended painting to create and have it teach me more than anticipated in its completion.
Happiness is a relatively individual state of being. Each person has their own definition of “Happy”. Happiness is an ebb and flow. Sorrow sits with happiness and they often remind each other of the value of the other. The state of happiness often surprises when it makes itself known. It often comes in snippets and is a healing balm, it is a nod that you perhaps are on the right track. Happiness is the peace that one has when your heart is light and free from the density of the should-of, would-of and could-of…and sheltered from the world’s density.
- My works range in price. They take approximately three months to bring to completion and often utilize goldleaf and refractive powders that often are costly. The pricing scale is from 4,000 to 8,000. I try to work with my patron with payment options as to what is best for their situation.
- Website: https://angelicasotiriou.com
- Instagram: @angelicasotiriourausch
- Facebook: @Angelica Sotiriou