TheBlackManCan is making its way into the state of New Jersey to bring you another Exquisite Woman who is bringing people of all ages’ life through art. We proudly present abstract expressionist artist Sophia Domeville. Sophia sits down with TheBlackManCan to talk about her love of Haitian culture, what an abstract expressionist artist is and words of advice for girls of African descent.
TheBlackManCanSophia, at what point in your life did you realize that art was your talent?
SD: The point in my life when I realized that art was my talent, at the age of five, I created my first landscape with drips of water color paint. I remember sitting there, mixing greens with yellows to find the right blend of leaves I pictured in my mind. I remember feeling a sense of calmness over the story I created through shapes but importantly I realized how different my painting was compared to the other kids.
Art then became my passion when I entered my first year within The College of New Rochelle, School of Arts & Science. Being away from my parents, having the room to just be myself without any restrictions, being advised by one of the best art department I know and just create into wee hours of the morning, helped carve out my craft immensely. I actually still remember drawing on 6ft by 6ft 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 18 I was discussing racism, sexism and the masks we as a people wore on a daily
I knew right then as I know now, art could be used as a tool for change within the world and I as at the tender age of 18 was ready to face the world armed with a paint brush.
TheBlackManCan: What is an abstract expressionist artist?
SD: Abstract Expressionist is an artist whose work is both nonrepresentational and mostly improvisational. An artist whose sole passion is to create work without any boundaries, formats, rules or order; expression of self for the sole purpose to create change within the world through the power of paint to canvas.
TheBlackManCan: Can you share with some of your art work and the meaning behind it?
SD: One of my most powerful pieces titled, “Andrew”, was created in memory of close friend who passed away last year of a heart attack at the age of 32. He is never too far from my thoughts and I felt it was only right to remember him. A percentage of the proceeds from the purchase of this piece will be donated to American Heart Association in his memory.
The piece represents the fragility of life. We take so much for granted. When my dear friend passed, it gave me pause and then redirection. More awareness is needed within our community about importance of taking better care of our health.
The death rates within my generation between the ages of 25-35 are at its highest due to poor health choices, lack of knowledge and miscommunication. I hope through my piece, I can continue spreading information about heart disease and one day hopefully save the life of someone within my community.
TheBlackManCan: Tell us about your organization herDIVASpot. Why is it important to give back by lifting as you climb?
SD: I am one of the founding members and mentor for a non-profit organization called, herDIVASpot– a non-profit organization that promotes 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 passion to change the world through use of art and mentoring the next generation of future leaders is a driving force behind my outreach efforts.
Maya Angelou is quoted as saying, “Dare to let your dreams reach beyond you” This quote has always been a mantra with everything and everyone I meet on a daily basis. Through my work, I hope to inspire everyone to do what they love in whatever field they may choose and live with passion, purpose, faith and drive.
Recently, I was appointed as the Vice President of another wonderful organization, Halls That Inspire
Halls that Inspire Inc. is a service-based non-profit organization seeking to provide assistance & guidance in the incorporation of our beautification & mentoring program within the school environment.
It utilizes the Arts to enhance, inform, inspire, create self-pride and motivate a sense of responsibility and to provide an understanding and highlight the importance of giving back to our communities through high impact, colorful, reinforced positive messages, graphics and slogans. All of this is accomplished with the full participation and support of the students, faculty and community.
Through our dedication and service, we seek to establish a scholarship fund to recognize and reward our youth who dedicate themselves, their time and resources to give back to others in their communities less fortunate and to continue to resonate these traits with their actions the true gift of giving back and share their understanding of this wonderful experience with their peers, neighborhood friends, family and community.
I have always said, if I can inspire one person to pursue their dreams then I have fulfilled my mission. I challenge myself to nurture the next generation and become a shining example as to what living with pure purpose means through the use of art.
TheBlackManCan: You are also the CEO and Founder of Ms. Phia Presents a small special events planning boutique. What ignited the spark to start this organization? What are some recent events you have thrown?
SD: What sparked my organization, Ms. Phia Presents, I wanted to create creative fundraisers centered around Art made by orphaned Haitian children to bring awareness on ART and how it will change the world. This in turn was my way of bridging the gap between finding aid in Haiti and Haitian relief through the Arts.
Last year I created, “Cocktails & Canvases”, the first of many summer events that sought to bring young professionals, art enthusiasts and up & coming artists together. My event was sponsored by Amour Creole Magazine, Barbancourt Rhum & Prestige Beer which held over 100 guests and was the closing Gala for, “I am Haiti” art exhibition. This exhibition was commissioned by creator of FilmOnArtists.com and photographer, Kevin O’Hanlon who joined the Haiti relief organization, Life for the World, in Haiti. The exhibition included over 200 pieces of art produced by the children from Maranatha School & Orphanage and paid tribute to the children’s creative spirit, strength and resilience in supporting their community through art. My event garnered so much support that I am in the planning stages of creating a larger Cocktails & Canvas event simultaneously to be held in Haiti and the States for summer 2013.
My 2nd event was a part of “My Soliloquy of Chaos” Showcase which was seen throughout the tri-state and Philadelphia. To keep the theme of showcasing the beauty of my Haitian Culture, I held a very special Haitian Jazz Brunch at La Caye, Haitian Restaurant in Brooklyn. My new works were displayed, I spotlighted all of the organizations I was affiliated with, gave copies of my feature in Amour Creole Magazine Fall issue and celebrated such a huge milestone in my life as a Haitian American Artist.
My Third Project, I am the co-creator of, “The Artist Recession”, a social networking exhibition where I showcase my work alongside up-in-coming artists from various genres such as photography, hip-hop, spoken word, acting, writing and more! This event promotes the message of artists supporting artists located in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
TheBlackManCan: You have a deep love for your Haitian culture. How has your culture helped shaped you into the woman you are today?
SD: I come from a long line of very strong, proud, passionate, hardworking, resilient, powerful and beautiful people. I learned early the essence on how to survive with minimal, have a strong family base and be proud as to where I come from. . Being a Female Haitian American Artist, with such a strong willed background, working with a male dominated field makes me not only erase the lines that women don’t have an abstractive voice, but historically within my culture, I am becoming a trailblazer, independent from the convention thought and traditional notions
Because of my Haitian culture, I became a woman who faces adversity, champions change within her community and driven by passion to consistently pursue her dreams.
TheBlackManCan: You recently returned from a trip to Haiti where you were sponsored as teaching artist for “Arts Day Celebration”. What it Arts Day Celebration? Why where you selected? How was the experience?
SD: In July I returned from my trip to Haiti sponsored as a Teaching Artist for Art Day Celebration, a program which cultivate and empower impoverished and underprivileged children through the Arts in Haiti. There we taught 150 children from three different orphanages on the power of Art. My work was so well received by Art Day Celebration, I’ve been asked to continue working with the organization on various projects and redevelop the artwork shop in Haiti.
As a Teaching Artist for Art Day Celebration in Haiti, I had firsthand experience on how the power of Art can change the lives of children whose environment have been devastated by natural disasters. These children whom I view as my own children have such a powerful light, spirit and energy when given tools such as a paint brush, tiny tubes of paint and paper just so they can express themselves. I wholeheartedly feel, ART as a tool will help a nation, can make a child understand their value of self, and acknowledge that pursuing their dreams is possible. Being a part of this program reminded me of my mission and how I have the power to change the world through ART.
I was chosen because of my deep love for the Arts and the importance of art needed for a child’s full development. My passion allowed me to fully grasp my purpose in life to change the world, create a connection with my work and inspire others that they too can reach their dreams by just believing. I mean I am no Oprah Winfrey but I think one day I will come close.
TheBlackManCan: You have a tumblr titled “The Black Venus.” Where inspired this name?
SD: The Black Venus derives from an idea I had years ago, playing with the words and definition behind “Black” and “Venus”. Facing the media’s exploitation of minorities as to what we as women should exemplify.
The Black Venus celebrates everything that I am as a Woman, Brown, Beautiful, Natural and Genuine.
TheBlackManCan: Where do you see yourself and your endeavors in the next five years?
SD: In 5 years, I will continue overseeing my projects with affiliate organizations, challenging myself as an Artist and create and implement a comprehensive Art Residency Program for students ranging the age of 8-18. This program will cover Newark, DC, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, London, Paris, Haiti and South Africa. I want to show that no matter what race, religion or culture ART connects us and has the ability to change the world.
TheBlackManCan: Why is it important for Black Men and Boys to see positive images of themselves?
SD: The importance in seeing a strong and positive image of our Black men and Boys makes a huge impact to not just our communities but the world. Our men and young boys need to see they are supported, strong, intelligent, and powerful and can achieve anything through Faith.
TheBlackManCan: What words of advice do you have for young girls of African descent?
SD: My words of advice to all of our young girls, stay true to you, believe in the impossible and never ever stop dreaming!