moss, paper mâché, molding paste, mop strings, oil on canvas. 107 x 107cm. 2021.
You don’t have any control over your dreams. Sometimes it is ok to not have complete control. This painting is about letting go, giving in to fate. In this nighttime scene, the waterfalls and streams run through the girls. Gravity pulls the water down to the bottom of the canvas. Some things are inevitable. Sometimes life takes you where you are meant to go.
▼星星般的雪，“Snow like Stars”
paper mâché, moss, prairie grass seeds, molding paste, mop strings, oil on canvas. 127 x 152cm. 2021
paper mâché, moss, dryer lint, oil on canvas. 127 x 152cm. 2020.
I often wonder if landscapes can hold memories. This painting is about that question. The Badlands is the name of a beautiful and strange place in South Dakota. Layered stone deposits give the appearance of red and orange stripes along the hills. It is one of the world’s richest fossil beds, where ancient horses and rhinos once roamed. The rocks erode a full inch every year, so the badlands will be completely gone within 500,000 years. It is a rugged and violent-looking landscape. There were battles fought in that area, wars between the native people and the European colonizers. I painted the rocks fighting each other with swords, daggers, and guns. I referenced old battle paintings to sketch the figures, then incorporated the men into the hills.
▼路途中的悸动，“Horny on a Walk”
paper mâché, prairie grass seeds, mop strings, oil on canvas. 127 x 152cm. 2020.
This romantic springtime painting is about the sensuality of the natural world. So many plants and animals seem to live for the sole purpose of reproduction. Some would argue that humans are no different. I made this painting to show what I believe the forest is ACTUALLY thinking about most of the time. The trees’ branches embrace each other. Even the fog is in the form of a couple having sex. For the composition of this painting, I was inspired by the Chinese and Japanese fog paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
▼编织细雨，“Braiding the Rain”
paper mâché, mop strings, oil on canvas. 107 x 127cm. 2020.
Nature can be harsh, but it can also be nurturing and calming. Braiding the Rain shows the more nurturing side of nature. I watched how-to braiding videos on YouTube to sketch the hands for this painting, then made them into waves. The ocean braids the falling rain like a mother would braid the hair of her daughter.
paper mâché, moss, prairie grass seeds, mop strings, oil on canvas. 127 x 152cm. 2019
Sleepover is a nostalgic painting. Nostalgic for a place but mostly for a feeling of belonging. The frozen ponds are the sleepy heads of my best friends from my teenage years. We used to have sleepovers in the woods in a tiny one-room hunting shack with a wood-burning stove. We were so connected to that place that the landscape stopped being a setting. It was us, and we were an extension of it. In this painting, we are merged with the night, like you can do sometimes while dreaming.
▼化作河流的保罗，“Paul as a River”
paper mâché, mop strings, oil on canvas. 127 x 152cm. 2019.
Paul as a River was the first painting I made in this new series. I had been painting landscapes for years, but had never tried to incorporate the human form into the landscape. I painted this shortly before marrying my husband, Paul. His personality reminds me of a river because he is always changing and never staying still. He has a fondness for rivers as well. A few years ago, he canoed from the head of the Mississippi in northern Minnesota all the way to Saint Louis, Missouri (almost 2000 Kilometers).
▼林间踪影，“Signs in the Woods”
paper mâché, prairie grass seeds, moss, mop strings, oil on canvas. 127 x 152cm. 2019.
I was thinking about my Grandma while making Signs in The Woods. I attempted to do a painting from her perspective. One of the ways Grandma has influenced me is her ability to let spirituality into her everyday life. Every time I see my Grandma she always had a new story of some sighting, coincidence or miracle that had recently occurred. Sometimes they are humorous stories, like having lost something that shows up in an unlikely spot. Sometimes it came in the form of finding natural objects in the woods that are shaped like hearts, crosses, faces. Whatever the circumstance, she has always been open to seeing “Signs” and so they come to her often. Her confidence in accepting those signs as truth gave me the confidence to do the same in my life. There are all kinds of spiritual and supernatural images hidden in this painting: angels, ghosts, even aliens.
paper mâché, molding paste, prairie grass seeds, mop strings, oil on canvas. 107 x 127cm. 2020.
I live in New York City. During the Covid 19 quarantine last spring and summer, I didn’t have access to a studio. I wasn’t able to make paintings for about six months. During that time, George Floyd was killed by police in the city where I was born. Protests broke out all over the country. My husband and I went out to protests almost every day that summer. When I finally got back to my studio, I made held down. It is a nightmare painting. It was sparked by the feeling of being physically confined during Covid, but it is more so about those who are psychologically held down. It is about all the people who do not feel free in their own skin, or in their own country.
paper mâché, molding paste, prairie grass seeds, mop strings, oil on canvas. 127 x 152cm. 2020.
I grew up on the prairie in rural Minnesota. Behind our house were wetlands, 50 acres of marshy grasses, aspens, willows, and birr oaks. I always adored that landscape because it was so wild and chaotic. The wetlands of Minnesota are being threatened right now by a Canadian oil company that is building an oil pipeline across hundreds of miles of indigenous treaty land. The native people have been protesting outside all winter, even in horribly cold conditions.
paper mâché, mop strings, moss, oil on canvas. 51 x 61cm. 2019.
Night Ice was a little commissioned painting from earlier this year. From painting this commission, I came up with the idea for my next piece, Always Falling.
Sophia Heymans (Born Dec 31st, 1989) is a Minneapolis-based artist, who received her bachelor degree in Rhode Island School of Design (BFA Painting). Heymans is fascinated by the connection between humans and nature that are always reflected in her works.