Sophia Argirro Kayafas

My name is Sophia Kayafas. I am a proud and openly queer 26-year old woman, Greek American, and devout Orthodox Christian living and working in Brooklyn, NY. My sexuality in the context of the church has often left me feeling mentally, emotionally, and spiritually vulnerable. Despite my doubts, struggles, and painful relationship with my family, I can’t seem to walk away from God. I explore my desperation for faith in my practice with a dual awareness of both its absurdity and beauty.

I often use pictorial space evocative of Byzantine iconography in Orthodox Christian churches to discuss my contradictions and transform them into bizarre mystical icons. Faith and doubt, acceptance and love, death, beauty, identity, sex, and violence coexist in a secret and sophisticated spiritual battlefield where humans, demons, angels, and saints are vividly alive.

Eastern Orthodox Icons have gone unchanged for 2,000 years since 300 AD into the 21st century. The stylization and form sense of the icon, though seemingly naive, has been carefully kept in tradition for its highly conceptual function. The bright flattened space, centrally bound figures, and reverse perspective spills out onto the viewer inviting them into a heavenly world. This stimulation inspires a kind of sensory contact that bridges the gap between the divine and the human via tactile exchange. My religious experiences involve kissing and conversing intimately and honestly with the icons of saints, the Mother of God, and Christ in the church space as spiritual family. These visuals, as well as incense, and chanting help me access a powerful thought-based relationship making each pictorial manifestation real and present.

I explore these very concepts with the vibrant and emotive features of painting, drawing, and sculpture as interchangeable mediums. They help inform each other fluidly as I work with, texture, layers, and bold color contrast. My use of multiple perspectives, bouncing light, centrally bound figures, and psychological narratives have become common constructive tools in my work.

I am creating a confronting and dynamic world that mirrors the one we think we know so well. We are all afflicted. We are a bunch of busy hurting humans longing for love. We forget that the world is full of suffering people. I open the mouth of the gift horse and look inside, I explore the loss of innocence and what it means to be Holy. What is Truth? What is Love? Who am I? Where is God?

Education
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2016

Masters of Fine Arts: Painting
New York Academy of Art, 111 Franklin Street, New York, NY, 10013

2014

Bachelor of Science: Fine Art and Public Relations
West Liberty University, 101 Faculty Dr, Wheeling, WV, 26007 Exhibitions

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2018 –

Summer Exhibition 2018 , Flowers Gallery, NY

2017 –
Fellows Exhibition, group show Wilkinson gallery, NY About Face, group show, South Hamptons Art Center, NY Single Fare 4, group exhibition, Highline Stages, NY Chubb Miami, group show, FL

2016 –
* Certainly Uncertain Solo Exhibition at Kirby Gallery, Wheeling Jesuit University, WV
MFA Thesis Exhibition, New York Academy of Art, NY Ladies Christian Union Exhibition, NY
Summer Exhibition 2016, Flowers Gallery, NY
Funny Stuff, New York Academy of Art, NY

2015 –

China Residency Exhibition, New York Academy of Art, NY
New Ovington Village, group show, Bay Ridge Art Space, Brooklyn, NY 798 District Group Residency Show, Joy Arts Gallery, Beijing, China Tribeca Ball, New York Academy of Art
Large Drawings Show, group show, New York Academy of Art, NY Deck the Walls, New York Academy of Art, NY
Juried Exhibition for Allied Artists of West Virginia, WV

2013 –

  • *  People, Places, and Things, solo exhibition, ArtsLink Inc. Gallery, New Martinsville, WV
    A Self Portrait, Solo Exhibition, Wheeling Artisan Center, Wheeling WV,
  • *  Progression, Solo Exhibition, Shaw Galleries, Pittsburgh, PA
    Crosscurrents Exhibition, Juried group shows, Stifle Fine Arts, WV

Prizes and Awards
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2017- Scott Moger PGTA Award Recipient for Teaching
2016-14 – Academy Merit Scholarship, New York Academy of Art
2013 – Naomi Winston Scholarship recipient, award funding continuing education in fine art
2013 – “Crosscurrents”, Stifel Fine Arts, juried show, award; 1st place, WV
2012 – National Utrecht Art Competition, 2nd place, Sculpture

Residencies and Fellowships ………………………………….

2016 – Third Year Chubb Fellowship Award, New York Academy of Art
2015 – China Summer Residency Award, two months abroad in Beijing, China

Publications ………………………

2016 – Artwork in New York Times Article “Funny Stuff”
2017 – Work featured in New York Magazine, “About Face”
2013 – Wheeling Intelligencer, “Interview with Artist on Solo Show”

Work Experience
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2018* -Drawing I Foundation Course, Adjunct Faculty
BFA Fall and Spring Semesters, Pratt Institute Brooklyn, NY

2018* – Drawing I, Adjunct Faculty
BFA Fall Semester, Hudson County Community College

2018* – Painting III Co- Teaching with Margaret Bowland MFA Fall Semester, New York Academy of Art

2018* – Painting Assistant
Ozeri Studios, Mana Contemporary, NJ

2017- Drawing II Teaching Assistant for Michele Fenniak MFA Spring Semester, New York Academy of Art

2017- Painting IV Co-Teacher with Margaret Bowland,
MFA Spring Semester, New York Academy of Art

2016-17 – Third Year Fellow, Stipend Contract
MFA Fall and Spring Semesters, New York Academy of Art

2016 & 2017 – Painting I, Teaching Assistant with Bernardo Siciliano MFA Fall Semester, New York Academy of Art

2016 & 2017 – Art And Culture, Teaching Assistant with Sarah Schmerler MFA Fall Semester, New York Academy of Art

2016 – Drawing II, Teaching with Dan Thompson
CFA Spring Semester, New York Academy of Art

2016 – Painting III Teaching Assistant for Margret Bowland MFA Spring Semester, New York Academy of Art

2015 & 2017 – Drawing I, Teaching Assistant for Dan Thompson MFA Fall Semester, New York Academy of Art

2014-12 – Stifel Fine Arts Drawing Instructor, Basics and Portraiture Fine Arts Center in Wheeling, WV