Published on May 19, 2020. Somé Louis is a Charlottesville-based conceptual artist working primarily in drawing, collage, assemblage, and installation. Fascinated by the concept of the aesthetic representation of everyday life, her work often explores simple elements, such as the materiality of paper and ephemeral objects, drawing and handwriting, and the act of collecting and curating. Somè participated in the 2019-2020 New City Artist Exchange.
In the Working from Home series, Charlottesville artists are sharing about their work and life in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Somè is our third featured artist.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I graduated from Wellesley College in 2017 with a BA in Studio Art and Art History, and a concentration in printmaking and works on paper. I currently work at Rare Book School as the Admissions Officer. I am interested in paper, accessible and ephemeral materials, and sustainability. I am also interested in the concept of a strong local community, especially local artists’ communities.
In my daily life, and in my work, I am particularly fascinated by the concepts of beauty and value that can be gleaned from simple, ordinary, everyday occurrences and objects. Because of this fascination, my work tends to be built on a number of simple daily practices: observing, writing, drawing, searching, organizing, categorizing, curating, and installing.
To me, a valuable, ordinary occurrence or object can be anything, but is particularly special when it is something that can easily be overlooked. For example, a valuable occurrence can be noticing a patch of golden sunlight in the grass, that disappears with a passing cloud, or a satisfying color scheme created by a group of people dressed in different outfits. A valuable object can simply be a found notecard with typewriter text, or a charming bottle cap with a compelling design.
I am motivated to use accessible or ephemeral materials, and simple practices like writing, drawing, and installation to express my fascination with these everyday occurrences because these materials also hold elements of beauty and value in their simplicity. I feel the warmth and comfort of my observations in these simple objects, and hope to share this value with others through artmaking as well.
2. How has the pandemic changed your practice? Has it changed the work you’re making? How you work?
Because I utilize a number of practices to make work, I did not notice any major changes to my making right away. However, as the quarantine extended, I noticed that I was focusing a lot more on the collecting and observing stage of my practice, and seemed to have a greater appreciation of found objects and materials as they were, rather than what they could “become.” I no longer have the option to simply go out and search for materials in recycling bins, or at thrift stores, so I am celebrating the simple materials I find at home, or the plants I find on my walks, and understanding that my artmaking can also extend to appreciating the material as an art object, and a reflection of a valuable occurrence or observation without explicitly stating it as such.
As someone who makes artwork based on my observations of the everyday, I am also noticing quite a bit more about my own environment/where I live. While enjoying these valuable observations of the everyday, I think that these observations are also helpful in keeping my mind active as each day is now spent in the same environment, often engaging in similar activities each day.
3. What is inspiring you/bringing you joy these days?
While I am actively working from home (and grateful for the opportunity to do so!), I’ve noticed that I seem to have more time in the day for personal projects and to work on personal sustainability. I am finding joy in becoming more active (it’s great to do yoga in the morning, or take a walk as the daylight extends later and later into the evening!), and observing the change in seasons. I am also enjoying propagating plants from my yard, attempting to grow wildflowers from seeds (that I found around the house, or got as gifts), and trying my hand at starting a vegetable garden from kitchen scraps (the onions and lettuce are going well so far, but the rest of them are still TBD...). I am also trying to read more, and have enjoyed searching the house for any unread, physical books that I can find.
4. What is something you have learned about yourself through your creative practice in a time of social distancing?
Because I am a very introverted person, and I create work based on personal feelings towards simple observations, I often sometimes believe that my creative practice is wholly self motivated. However, while social distancing, I have realized that I am actually motivated to create by observing and engaging with the works and observations of others as well. Seeing others make art about their experiences, or about fantastic storylines, or hearing friends and family speak about their own daily motivations makes me feel more motivated to share my own observations and create my own work, and both grounds and energizes me in knowing that there are plenty of ordinary observations that still continue to exist each day, especially when the anxiety of our current situation seems to be too much to bear.
Images courtesy of the artist.
The opinions expressed in this interview are solely those of the artist and do not necessarily represent the policies or positions of NCAI.
See more of Somè's work on Instagram.
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