Sophie White, Grey, 2019. Gouache on paper, 7 x 10 inches.
Sophie White writes of her work: My recent plein air paintings are motivated by a rapid onslaught of new development that dramatically accelerated during 2019 in my Philadelphia neighborhood. The gentrification process is nothing new to cities but it’s taken on a new capacity to polarize wealth as Finance treats cities increasingly like private businesses rather than recognizing them as places of distinct, evolving identities in which diverse individuals and communities live their interweaving lives and access unforeseen possibilities. By making paintings of places on the verge of becoming unrecognizable, I am able to spend time with and mourn the neighborhood as I once knew it, while anticipating what is to come. Each painting is made in the exact time and location in which the place depicted was existing, with me in it, and it is sort of an artifact of that moment as experienced by me. Painting the image by hand with no technological support allows me to decide exactly what information before my eyes needs to be included in the image, and allows the particularities of my senses and movements to determine formal characteristics. I began painting cityscapes in that manner while experiencing similar feelings of alienation from my surroundings, growing up in Lower Manhattan.
Born 1984 in New York, NY, Sophie White has lived and worked in Philadelphia, PA since 2009. She earned her MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 2017 and her BFA from the Cooper Union School of Art in 2006. She is a 2020 Fellow with the Center for Emerging Visual Artists. Working primarily as a painter, Sophie makes sculptures and plays drums as well. She has exhibited and performed at numerous arts spaces in Philadelphia, New York City and around the world.