Chicana artist Sonya Fe paints for women. She paints for children. She paints for those who bear the weight of the world without being seen.
Currently on view at Eastern Projects in Los Angeles, Sonya’s solo exhibition Three Blocks from Dogtown spins the artist’s childhood experiences through a collection of social and cultural issues affecting our most vulnerable citizens. “I believe that children should be painted with honor,” Sonya declares. “A child deserves the respect to be painted not as a cute little angel, but as a person with dignity. Not everything in a child's world is simple.”
Reflecting on the many facets of being female, Sonya uses a range of materials to express doubt, pain, confusion, sexuality, and joy, which results in distinct, differing styles. "I don't want to try to make my drawings look like my paintings,” the artist explains. “My drawings are more from my heart, and are more of an emotional expression than my paintings.” One such drawing, “Don’t Become a Dish to a Man, You Will Soon Break,” gives voice to a common but frequently unexpressed female fear. Sonya presents us with an unclothed woman on a plate, limbs detached, and holding on for dear life as tears slide down her cheeks.
The show's title references Sonya’s upbringing in Santa Monica, a coastal city colloquially called “Dogtown” by residents of Southern California. As a child, Sonya sketched with chalk on the cold concrete floors of her family’s home, only to have it mopped away so she could start fresh the next day. Now an adult, Sonya shows regularly throughout Southern California in galleries and museums. Two of her works were recently acquired by art collector Cheech Marin, whose passion for Chicano/a art resulted in the grand opening of the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture in June 2022.
Recalling intimate childhood experiences, Three Blocks from Dogtown deftly marries Sonya’s personal memories with a broader narrative about the nature of vulnerability and the female perspective. “I want the viewer to stand with me while looking at my work,” she says. “I want them to feel, see, and understand what I am saying—to not be left behind. I want to ask them, ‘Are you with me?’”
Three Blocks from Dogtown is on view through July 9, 2022 at Eastern Projects in Los Angeles, CA. For more information, please visit the gallery’s website here.
“I want to ask [the viewer], ‘Are you with me?’” — Sonya Fe
All photos published with permission of the artist(s).
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