in the studio with sophie truong

February 28, 2013

Sophie’s chien stitched on paper

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to hang out in the Boston studio of artist Sophie Truong, where, over tea and homemade clafoutis, we discussed her evolution from international business major to working artist.

Raised just outside of Paris, Sophie Truong came to America as a young woman and eventually found herself employed as a product developer for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Despite her proximity to the world of art, Sophie’s own transition to artist came about almost by accident. “A friend who was taking painting classes at the Museum School showed me what she was learning one afternoon, and it was an instant transformation.”

Sophie immediately started taking classes of her own, experimenting with painting and paper arts. Then “little by little I started incorporating fiber into my work,” she explained. “I’ve always loved antique textiles and was really drawn to handwork, mending, and embroidery. I started experimenting with mixed media and realized how a tactile process was much more satisfying to me. Stitching is very meditative, and I think it partially helped me stay sane when I was still working my day job. As time went by, it became clear that I wanted to give more time and space in my life to art making and less to my job.” Finally, a wave of layoffs at the Museum gave Sophie the push she needed to devote herself to art full time. Today, surrounded by her own fiber creations, Sophie is working on a new adventure, Stitch and Tickle: sumptuous leather totes and wallets, all hand sewn by Sophie in her Boston studio.

Sophie’s work is marked by an enticing mixture of raw, visceral energy, and delicate femininity. Threads fly, unruly and unbound off of paper and fibre. Unpolished, the tracks of creation are important. They lend a dynamic, ephemeral, and tactile quality to Sophie’s pieces that draws you in. Similarly Sophie’s bags display the artist’s playfulness and fascination with the material. The leathers are supple, sensual. The colors are deep and rich. The detailing, though minimal, is always spot on: passion pink against cloud gray, mustard velvet with chestnut brown.

Inhabited by Sophie’s creations as well as the artist herself (who is as hearty, warm, and dynamic as her pieces), Truong’s studio is nothing short of inspiring. And I, for one, am very glad that she made the switch to stitch.

Sophie working in her studio at Boston Center for the Arts

a box of thread scraps

a tote the color of red wine

small clutches with striking contrast stitching

The vintage doll in the window was a gift from a friend.

Some of Sophie’s work – a series made with tea bags and a more recent installation of wire and fabric balloons – float over the artist’s work table.

Framed by driftwood collected from New England beaches, a mixed media piece with wax and thread  hangs on the wall.

a driftwood heart

The detailing on Sophie’s tote bags is exquisite.

more bags in an array of rich colors and a rainbow of thread

“Less is More” thread stitched on teabags

Sophie’s work space is surrounded by her own pieces as well as tools of the trade.

making a bag

Sophie in her South End studio

a collection of vintage brushes

Sophie’s balloons seen from the floor

smaller wallets or card cases

white stitch on handmade paper

leather clutches with velvet ties

sewing station

sample thread

red stitch on tea bags

“What Goes Around…”

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