A Short Chat with Artist in Residence Sophia Haddix

A Short Chat with Artist in Residence Sophia Haddix

Sophia Haddix is a multi-disciplinary artist with a focus in clay and copper sculpture. She is also one of Freehold’s two 2024 Artists in Residence. We sat down with Sophia to talk about their history as an artist and performer, the connections between visual art and dance, and the struggle to create outside the bounds of expectations.

Can you just talk a little bit about the art that you do and your journey to this to this point?

I was a kid that had a very large amount of imagination. I could create worlds [and] get lost in them…a daydreamer. I love to draw or use different materials around me, and construct little worlds. I got into drawing at a young age and loved creating new characters… I would get the newspapers sometimes–the funnies–and cut all the different characters out and then lay them into a new world where they all interacted and had stories. And I would just spend a lot of time doing that kind of stuff, just building characters and stories and worlds and exploring life that way. 

I really liked inventing things, whether they worked or not. [I liked] the idea of something else being created, and something else being created out of what already was. I really liked that.

And then I started getting into dancing. I would just dance for hours on my own. It wasn’t until high school where I was collectively starting to dance with other people.

School was very challenging for me, because I just needed so much stimulation. I was an explorative, tactile, kinesthetic learner. Always questioning, always imagining something different than what was being told. I loved art and science, [they were] probably my best subjects. I really just kind of leaned into art and science. I was a kid that just wasn’t ever bored by imagination and creating. My desire to learn and understand just gave me so much to do all the time. Even if there was nothing to do around me, there was always something I was able to entertain myself with.

Can you talk about how dance relates to your visual art? 

I think it’s a very similar energy–or the same creative energy just going through different mediums. And for me, dance is like surrendering to the creative force, and allowing myself to just fully become that brush, become that paint, become that canvas, become the artist holding the brush. It’s like a full bodied experience of creating art. And there’s so much freedom in that…everything kind of can be felt all at once. I feel like it’s the closest feeling to fully being present.

Sometimes, you know, with the structure of the society, we’re so removed. Or we get pulled away, or distracted, or attached, or things that we’ve experienced make it hard to be in the body. But with dance, it’s like, emotions might come up, but then–just like the waves are moving and my body is moving–they just move out and shift and change. And then it’s another one and then it’s something else that maybe I don’t even know how to put the motion into words, and then I’m feeling the wind, I’m feeling the water, I’m feeling the warmth of the heat, I’m feeling the strength of the earth, I’m feeling the spirit.

I feel like a lot of my art at this point in time is very explorative of the creative force and creation itself. And it gives me a visual representation to explore that, a little bit removed from my body. It’s still coming through me, but I’m able to see it, feel and experience it, I’m able to see it being expressed. And that feels really good to do.

To lean into that is really powerful, at least that’s how I felt like with this experience being at Freehold. In the Black Box there is like this kind of darkness element, which is in connection with all of it, because that’s where the big things are created:  seeds birthing from the darkness of the ground, being in the womb, space itself. So being in that allowed for more expansiveness, and to be able to do it without eyes watching–especially BIPOC folks. 

I’m moving in the world often with the awareness that eyes are watching every move, watching to see if I’m a threat, watching to see if…whatever. Then being in [artist residencies], there’s always this idea of, “Oh, you need to produce something. What is your value? What is your worth? Or what are you actually bringing? What are you making for us? Or what do you know?” All these different things start to erode a bit of the creative process and influence things in a way that still maybe produces really amazing, powerful, beautiful things. But at the same time it leaves a question of “What if no one was [watching] what would come out of it?” Because in science it’s proven that atoms being observed behave differently than if they’re not. So if I know I’m being watched, I’m going to move a different way. And then what if I’m not being watched? What happens then? 

It brought me back to that space from when I was a kid. People weren’t really paying attention, I was just creating, I was just imagining and that would expand and go and ebb and flow and breathe. And through this process, I realized I ended up more in that creative space in a way that I hadn’t been in a long time. and wasn’t sure if I could touch it again. 

Because what happened to my imagination? I had a hard time tapping into that. Even being in the space [at Freehold], it took me a while just to get there. Because even though it was like: “No one’s watching you, you’re not expected to have a finished product at the end, this space is for you to explore, imagine, discover,” it took me so long to unravel [what was] blocking or holding me from really fully being present. And I remember at one point I was frustrated, because I felt like I couldn’t play out in a way that was not in some constructive form. [I would think] “This would be cool to show people, or maybe I should try this thing,” and I was like, no, What is it to create just out of this? What’s here? Let it move through me and be. And through that frustration, I had to just kind of surrender to that and let that move through me. 

And so I started just dancing in the space, and started drumming on the pillars. I started having this conversation with myself and this other self that’s being the watcher. At one point I remember I kept saying “Why can’t you be without eyes watching? Why can’t you be without eyes watching and?” I started just repeating that over and then dancing around and then having this conversation and I was crying and I was laughing and I was angry and then I was sad and then I became kinda euphoric with laughter and was hysterical. But I started kind of working through that, and that was part of that process. 

I feel so grateful for being able to have the freedom to go through that process. I’m still in process, but I was able to get through so much to get to this point where now I feel expansive. And now I’m in this exploration a little bit more fully.

Can you talk a bit about what you’re going to be share with folks at the public event at Freehold?

What we’re sharing is an exploration–still in process–of how we create through memories; how we create our forms, our dreams, our lives? How our connection to our memories impacts and influences what we dream and create. And what does it mean to explore outside of that? Think of water holding memory–how it can still be changed and influenced because of the way that it holds. And so how can we change and influence our own experience? And what do we dream out through this exploration? It’s kind of really cool.