VAP2020-Q4 Words and Pictures

Interrogating timelines in the work of Sophia Reed.

Sophia Reed’s most recent work is an invitation to interrogate timelines. Looking at narratives that sit at the center of America’s hegemonic belief system, Reed takes viewers through worlds that feel quite familiar. Stories of knights, and angels, jesters and a phoenix, Reed evokes images formed from early western societies. Reed explores what pieces of history have been preserved, appropriated, and passed down. Referencing artifacts from ancient civilizations, Reed forces us to ask what we think we know, not only about these objects and the stories they hold, but also what these objects know about themselves. 

Reed wrestles with control, domination, social hierarchy, and power. In their own way, each piece takes us on a quest for truth. They also force us to reflect on which stories serve those in power today, and where we are positioned inside them. As we are brought through scenes of destruction, and rebirth, as well as more contemplative moments of restoration, we see how myths have been adapted and continue to live on, regardless of how harmful they are.

Whether it is through a mirror, altar, or an archway, Reed creates portals into an in between space that cuts through planes of reality, asking the viewer, and the characters in the piece to make sense of one another. Looking at and through Reed’s large scale, air brushed, laser-cut paintings, she forces us to see the tension between what feels like distant history, and our present day. 

In Reed’s ceramic piece entitled Weight, we see a vase. Referencing ancient Greek pottery the vase also has wings and is positioned on top of a framed mirror, looking down. Here the vase is not only confronting it’s reflection, but also the limits of the frame. In this world, we understand that the vase can spread its wings and leave, but instead chooses to stay and sit with what it sees, with the viewer as a witness in the background.

Critiquing the foundations of western society, Reed tasks us to reckon with the frames we each operate from, somehow informed and connected to ideas that seem so far away. We are asked to consider our escape route from them. Reed chips away, and cracks open these dimensions, leaving forms of maps to a new place- an opening where there is space to envision a new creation story. Full of rebirth and revolution, Reed puts hope on a pedestal.

About the artist: Sophia Reed is a visual artist located in Kansas City, KS. She creates paintings and ceramic works that challenge cycles in the world. Recently she has been making ceramics works which  contrast her paintings flatness. Reed enjoys learning about and sharing other artists’ work. Her website is: and her Instagram profile is: @sophiapaints.

About the writer: Sara Minsky is New York City born and based interdisciplinary artist and educator. Her work explores memory, trauma, and family dynamics. Minsky holds an M.A in Art Education from The City College of New York and is currently an Artist in Residence at Trestle Art Space in Brooklyn, NY.  Her website is: