Today we’d like to introduce you to Elif Soyer.
Elif, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I am a Turkish-American artist who grew up primarily in Birmingham, Alabama. Both of my parents are retired physicians. When I was a kid I wanted to become a doctor just like them, but they subtly discouraged me from he field reasoning their profession was getting more business and less healing oriented. My mom’s side of the family has a lot creative types, some of who are very well known in Turkey. Her uncle was Bedri Rahmi Eyuboglu. He and his Romanian bride Eren are two of Turkey’s most acclaimed artists. Even with “art in my blood” I always thought it was not a practical field to pursue, so I got a degree in Econ from Emory University where I interned at the Carter Presidential Center.
I subsequently interned at the Brookings Institution and later worked for a lobbying firm in DC for a while. It took following the love of my life to Indonesia where he worked for several months on a UNICEF/WHO project to re-think my path in life. When I returned to the US I applied to the School of the Museum Fine Arts, Boston for a studio diploma and was accepted on the day I applied. I went on to receive my MFA from Tufts and the Museum School.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
When I was young, art was an escape for me. When I took pen to paper, I became hyper focused and everything in the background faded away. That aspect of the creative process has never left my side. I don’t have a particular love when it comes to medium as I have worked in materials like raw porcelain, paint, concrete and lace, but inevitably (regardless of medium or subject) my process includes some form of obsessive layering. Sometimes that layering involves putting together historic artifacts from my own life, and sometimes it involves layering over and over again with two dimensional form or materials. While the subjects can go from environments created by my own understanding of neuronal pathways, to journals created through mosaicked and thought/word re-informed junk mail – I always hope to engage the viewer in a way in which they can place themselves into the narrative or environment created by the paining or object and change the way they might have previously thought of the subject matter.
Artists face many challenges, but what do you feel is the most pressing among them?
One great challenge is that only a tiny, tiny percentage of artists are able to support themselves through their work. Everyone artist I know has to maintain a “day job” in order to make ends meet. We are all expected to work as artists, and to work as bread earners in something outside of our field. Many of the working artists at Kingston Gallery are teaching art to make a living. While this can be considered “in their field” it’s still not doing work in the studio for themselves. Another great challenge is exposure. The internet is making this a little bit easier, but seeing work online is nothing like experiencing in person. Biggest challenge of all? Arts in general are being crowded out more and more by other more easily “consumable” commodities and fields of education…
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
When I was at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts I was very fortunate to find a work-study job with Lelia Amalfitano, who was at the time Director of Exhibitions. She and partner Ed Lloyd encouraged me to apply as a member artist to Kingston Gallery. I never expected to be accepted, but I was. I remember taking my application materials to a dark and dusty building a couple of floors up on Bromfield Street. By the time I had my first exhibition at Kingston, the gallery had re-located to Harrison Ave. in what is now the SOWA arts district in Boston. What a great move for the gallery! I was not part of that decision and none of those members are still with Kingston, but boy were they right on the mark with their decision. We can as a gallery be really grateful of that legacy. Since my first show I have had shows in Turkey and other parts of the US, but mainly at Kingston where I have a solo show every couple of years. I have been lucky enough to be reviewed (well) in the Boston Globe a couple of times and have sold work here and abroad. I guess the best way to see my work if you can’t see it in person, is on the Facebook page for my studio which is Elif Soyer Studios.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://instagram.com/elifsoyerstudios
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Elif-Soyer-Studios-172239602853809/
Elif Soyer and Jason Sachs