In the early months of 2022, Freehold explored a form of collaboration working with Engaged Theatre Artist and DJ Jennifer Moore to form the new Curated Residency Program. This program intends to support the winding roads that artistry can take and to open our space to a vibrant community of artists, without expectation of final product.
One of our resident artists from this pilot was Sophie Morada (they/she). Sophie is a Filipino multimedia artist, musician, and propagandist/cultural worker with Anakbayan Seattle. They are interested in exploring political education through a variety of mediums, such as illustrations, animations, banners, music, educational discussions, and building collective life together. They work in Seattle to prop the justness and intentions of the Philippine National Democratic movement, and to support their kasamas in embracing their own roles as propagandists as well. Check out other work on Sophie’s website and Instagram.
We spoke with Sophie shortly after the completion of the residency to hear how the process was for them.
Freehold Theatre: What were some expectations you had going into the residency?
Sophie Morada: Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Jen (Jennifer Moore) told me it’d be a collaborative experience with me and Hanan. Since COVID changed that, I still wanted it to be a collaborative and collective experience. I used it as a space to bring in folks from my organization so it could be a place for collective life building. I don’t have a studio accessible right now, so having the space was fantastic. There was a lot of open wall space to experiment with painting and other mediums that I haven’t tried as much because I don’t have the space. So I’d say I thought of it as pretty open for experimenting since I didn’t have concrete expectations.
FT: Was your creation process during the residency different from how you normally create?
SM: Because of the size of the space, my work was on a bigger scale than I’ve ever been able to do at home. During these past two years, all of my art has been done at home, so most of it has been digital work instead of traditional painting. I can’t cover the walls of my room with painting stuff, but I was able to at Freehold. I started working on smaller paintings, but even then it was on a bigger scale than I could do at home. The thing I worked on, I’m pretty sure Robin and Jordan saw us working on it, was a big banner with a couple other people. It was 5 feet by 20 feet, way bigger than anything I would’ve worked on if I wasn’t in a studio space.
FT: Would you feel comfortable talking about what you worked on during the residency?
SM: One of the first things I experimented with was trying to get back into painting. I didn’t have a big canvas, so I taped together pieces of paper to see how big I could get it. There’s an artist I follow who talks about stream of consciousness drawing, which is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a good way to get back into the technical aspect of art when I don’t have any ideas about what to paint.
Like I mentioned before, I tried to use the space as an opportunity for collective life building. I started working on getting back into crocheting. Crafting is more of a collective thing and can be more of a community based art form. I invited my kasamas, who are both friends and comrades in the National Democratic Movement for the Philippines. I wanted to build with them through crocheting, and it was a great experience to do so while being in Freehold. I can’t really invite people over to my house, and it was too cold to crochet outside, so the scale was different and it was great.
I also continued working with my comrades on the banner that I mentioned, which was for an action we organized about the Philippine presidential elections, just raising awareness about the facts that two of the candidates are children of fascist dictators. We wanted the banner for that action to be huge so that it can really be visible to crowds of people. It’s the biggest banner we’ve ever made. It was great that there was enough wall space to work on it indoors, and having the projector to use for the text.
FT: How would you like to see the residency grow and evolve?
SM: If COVID allows, some opportunities for collaborative work would be a great use of the space. With the size of the studio, at least with the work that I’m doing, it wasn’t possible to use the whole studio without working with other people. If future residents can share a space and work on a project together–especially if their primary mediums are different!–would be cool.
It’d also be cool to use the library; Freehold has so many books! It definitely depends on what the artists are focusing on during the residency, but making use of every aspect of Freehold in however many ways they can would be great. I came in not knowing what direction I’d go in, so having avenues to integrate reading into the work to spark inspiration would be great, as would having another person to collaborate with to influence the work.
FT: What would you say to someone who may be interested in doing the artistic residency?
SM: It’s a really great opportunity to explore what you can do in a big studio space and really get back into making if you’ve had a hard time finding a physical space to work in. Having a space, at least for me, really opened up so many pathways of thinking. I was able to take that leap of faith and see what kinds of things came out of my ideas. Everything feels so wide open; just see where the space takes you! See where the space takes you.