BUCKHANNON – The M.I.B. Gallery of the Colonial Arts Center has a new exhibit featuring the work of Fierce Sonia – a mixed media artist from White Sulphur Springs whose display is titled ‘Once Upon a Dream.’
On Friday, Fierce Sonia spoke with those attending the opening of her display, which will be open from 4 to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through July 16. ART26201 founding member Bryson VanNostrand introduced Fierce Sonia as a ‘West Virginia girl’ who went away for a bit to Alexandria, Virginia but has since moved back.
“Our mission has been to bring more cosmopolitan, non-traditional artwork to this town,” VanNostrand said. “West Virginia is full of great traditional arts, but there is not much on the conceptual side, and we are looking for things exactly like this. We want people to be questioning what they are seeing and what the artist’s intentions are. It’s pushing the envelope that we are looking for – that is why Sonia is here today.”
Fierce Sonia said she put her show together based on a lot of the themes that have long held her interest, such as narratives and storytelling.
“[In] storytelling, I like to borrow from are things we know really well,” she said. “I used to be a preschool teacher, so storytelling in the context of entertaining children and teaching children means a lot to me and is a big part of my identity. I borrow from fairy tales, and you will see where mythology means a lot to me.”
Sonia said she likes the departure from reality that fairy tales provide readers.
“We can start flying and we can have beasts with different heads and bodies,” she shared. “You can see inside people and see their skeleton. These things are great to use as a painter.”
Sonia said she loves color – something that’s apparent in her mixed media creations, which are usually assembled with collage and acrylic paint. She also talked about her favorite piece in the collection.
“I moved here from Alexandria about two years ago, and from my farm, I can see the place on the mountain where my grandmother raised my mother,” she said. “It is a deep homecoming. I felt like there were magnets in my feet bringing me home.”
She said her great-grandmother came to her in a vision.
“She came to me, and I wanted to make her into a superhero,” Fierce Sonia said. “We see this common superhero pose but I wanted to change it a little bit – her arms are still akimbo and are still making a triangle but it’s not from the hips – it’s on her face. I thought that was perfect for how I wanted to build this painting.”
She explained the ‘super-hero’ is emblematic of the sacred heart, which is important to her, and the quilt in the background behind her signifies her superhero cape. Sonia said the stencil in the painting used to make the flower pattern was actually cut from her grandmother’s apron.
In the entrance to the M.I.B. Gallery, Fierce Sonia has an introduction explaining that ‘folk stories are meant to be retold – in the retelling, fascinating adaptations happen, and patterns occur, that is the same as painting in a series. I want to own my place in this rich tradition and make by contribution by expanding the roles women play, making them central heroes in their own narratives.’
The M.I.B. Gallery is located at 48 E. Main St. in Buckhannon. Additional information is available on Facebook.