Sophie Tottie at the Carpenter Center

Last Thursday I went to the Carpenter Center to hear Berlin-based visual artist and VES visiting professor Sophie Tottie’s address, part of the VES department’s efforts to get students and visiting faculty members acquainted. Tottie went through a slideshow of her work, explaining the concepts that go into her conceptualization and creative processes.

Some of my favorite pieces Tottie discussed that night were her meticulous early line drawings, which she described as "line after line with a ruler and a 0.5 millimeter pencil for writing." You can really see what she’s talking about when she mentions playing with "tension created by flat imagery and its surroundings" in the drawings’ taught, mathematical layouts.

Tottie also addressed some of the concepts in the two works she currently has on display at the Carpenter Center (see close-up below), two large ink drawings she made by following the natural inclination of her hand while painting. Again Tottie mentioned tension with these works, saying they displayed the "tension between signifying and non-signifying lines departing from abstract patterns created by freehand. The small mistakes increased importance slowly takes over the whole design."

Though these two works are black and white, she also mentioned her appreciation of the "elastic ability of color to sometimes have meaning and sometimes not and more often to hover between these two possibilities."

Students enrolled in Tottie’s courses this year can expect an equally applied and academic experience: of her teaching Tottie said, "I often emphasize the balance between theory and practice."

The visiting faculty exhibition (including Tottie’s two paintings) is up at the Carpenter Center until September 27 and I highly recommend checking it out whether or not you have a class with one of the visiting professors. It’s a good way to see some free, non-local art. And the next lecture at the Carpenter Center will be Michele Zalopany on Tuesday, October 6.

See also: Visual Arts, archive