Briefly describe the work you do.
My work builds on the quotidian, on personal and intimate stories and little details of daily life. It results from exploring routines, manias, memories, obsessions, and from an acute screening of the space I dwell: colors, shapes, materials, sounds, rhythms, stereotypes, doubts … In this pursuit, observation, intuition and imagination intersect, leading to a series of connections and disconnections between inside and outside. I aspire to build narratives that make sense of, or account for, life experiences and the many ways in which the milieu shapes memory and a sense of self. My goal is to make room for the trivial, the contradictory and paradoxical, by means of reflecting on the coexistence, tensions and possible relationships between public and private, proper and improper, fiction and reality, duty and love, absence and presence
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
I was born and raised in Bogota (Colombia) in the 80s and 90s, at the height of the war on drugs; certainly the history of violence in the country has been a major influence in my work and in my life. But beyond the grand narrative of violence, I find my greatest inspiration in private and intimate stories of daily life, narratives about family, simple stories and tales of everydayness, which continues in spite of and pervaded by these awful stories.
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
For me the studio goes beyond a physical space, the study is a mental space that is operating all the time. I do have a studio space where I work mostly on painting; I try to spend two or three days a week over there. I also have a small space at home, which I consider another studio, where I work on photography and sound projects, and then there’s my computer, another studio space to spend time reading, doing research, surfing, socializing, taking notes, thinking and wasting a lot of time.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
Public relations, networking, advertising and promotion, website development, business management, packaging, shipping and writing and re-writing and keep writing. I never thought I would have to write so much!
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?
I don’t think there’s a better time to make art, I think it’s a 24/7 job, I’m always creating, thinking and rethinking … my thought process is continuous and occurs at any time, anywhere, typically at the wrong time or when I have nowhere to take notes. Anyway, I think I’m more productive after 9AM and on sunny days.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
My life has changed drastically in the past five years and so my work has also changed. I still work mostly in painting, sound, and photography, but my interests and concerns have transformed since I became a mother almost five years ago. Since then I’ve been balancing my life between being a mother and making art. I’ve always been interested in issues related to memory, history, personal narratives, and the way those little stories intertwine to build larger, public and official narratives. An undeniable influence in my work (and life) is the large-scale violence that has swept Colombia since 1948: guerrillas, paramilitaries, drug trafficking, kidnappings. Through my work I’ve tried to grasp and make sense of my experience… The birth of my daughter meant a drastic change in the way I approach the world … on the one hand it led me to “lock myself” indoors for a while, and it set me face to face with my insecurities and fears, with a completely unknown and hard task. On the other hand, it took me to reassess the value of routine and the little details of daily life, to see the little things that make up life, in contrast to the mega narratives of violence. Between 2011 and 2013 I worked on a project that emerged from many hours of sound recordings of every day life with my daughter, the project became a series of sound still-lifes. As of this project I began to consider noise and silence, intimacy, everyday life, routines, personal stories, and the intriguing bonds of family.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
My family has unconditionally supported my career; in fact they have always driven me to continue even in times of uncertainty. Open and honest criticism and intimate conversations with family, friends and colleagues have an impact on my work and help me to keep things brewing longer. It also helps me to verbalize and shape my thoughts. As to other artists, writers, philosophers, the list can be very long, at this time I think of Sofia Coppola, Julie Gavras, Louise Bourgeoise, Liza Lou, Do-Ho Suh, Umberto Eco, Jorge Luis Borges, Simon Critchley Samuel Beckett, Nirvana … I could go on and on.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
Definitely. Besides being an artist, my other great interest is teaching. It is a job that I have done and I enjoy deeply, and actually enriches my work as an artist. Likewise, in teaching there are many opportunities to discuss my work, develop collaborative projects, and talk about art, philosophy, literature, music, theory, and more.
Sofía Botero is a Colombian artist whose work draws from everyday life, domestic routines, personal histories, and the gap between public and private life. She holds a BFA from Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá, 2002) and an MFA from Tufts University/School of the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, 2011). Botero’s work has been shown since 1999 in solo and group shows in Colombia, Venezuela, United States, and recently in South Korea. She is the recipient of the Montague Travel Grant for Research and the President’s Research Award form the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Graduate Research Award from Tufts University. Her artwork has been featured in magazines and newspapers including the Paint Pulse Magazine, Issue 3 (July, 2015) and it is part of private and public collections in Colombia, Venezuela and the U.S. She currently lives and works in Bogotá, Colombia.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.