#BĀS TALK with Sofia Enriquez
On June 25, 2021, three weeks after Sofia Enriquez’s opening show at BĀS Bookshop, we invited the artist to share her process & journey throughout the artworld. As a Mexican-American artist born in Coachella Valley, she has made her mark through many different art mediums. During her artist talk, Sofia covered various topics, from being the first woman from Coachella Valley to paint a mural there, to her many honorable mentions from the New York Times, Vogue, Designboom, and more. Sofia also covered her fashion line “MUCHO: Hawaii”, which is currently available for purchase at BĀS Bookshop.
“There was no safe place for me as a kid. Painting was a place of going somewhere that made me feel sane while I was younger and even to now.” - Sofia Enriquez
After Sofia’s presentation, the event ended with a Q&A. The attendees were able to converse directly with Sofia, and ask her questions related to her presentation.
What does MUCHO: Hawai’i mean?
SE: Hawaii is a fashion line that I created because I felt like I was “A workaholic. I was stuck in work mode all the time!” My mom once asked me, “Sofia, why are you doing so much? You should slow down!” I told her it’s because “if I don’t do art then people won’t see that I’m doing art. THAT’s how artists become known, by doing the most.” So MUCHO, in a way, represents the people that have a work addiction. People who are dying inside, but in a good way, people like ME.” MUCHO also started when I was cleaning houses with my mom. Rich people would get rid of clothes, so I just started cutting them, sewing them, and then painting on them. That’s kind of how I lived my life.
How has creating a fashion line helped your journey through fashion?
SE: MUCHO has helped me create my own fashion shows. In 2019, I had my first solo show at Coachella. All of the pieces were thrifted by me. I thought to myself “the more fabric, the more paint.” These pieces could just about fit anyone, and I was able to showcase both my art work and my appreciation of unisex clothing.
Having a fashion line has also helped me build dope relationships…by putting out modeling calls, it allowed me to meet some really rad people especially here in Hawaii.
Later that year, Sofia was approached by Dickies to do a collaboration line and pop-up in Los Angeles, California.
Where did you go to school, and what was your focus?
SE: I went to school at Otis School for Art and Design in LA for fashion, but later I changed my focus to illustration since fashion school was too expensive. I’m glad I did it because here I am now with my own fashion line! I was also asked to design a mural for the school. This was the mural that allowed me to find my style in painting.
You started going to fashion school - did you have a vision of what type of fashion you wanted to do?
SE: During my highschool years, I would design my own prom dresses and clothes for school. I always wanted to be known as the Indie kid with cool clothes. As time went on I really got into clothes with more imagery and graphics, so that’s what I began making.
What other murals have you done other than the one at Otis?
SE: My career started at the age of 22. My first mural was in Coachella Valley. I was the first woman to ever do a mural there. While I was painting the mural, a man approached me and told me I shouldn’t be there and that I needed to learn my place. This was just proof to me that sexism is such a real thing in the art world too… so are all of the ‘isms’. I later did Murals in Japan where I think I found my style. After Japan, I went to Paris while dealing with depression. My way of dealing with depression was painting over two dozen murals while I was there. Most recently, I did a mural at EchoPlex in LA, which is right next to the famous Echo Park. This was the first time that I was hired to design how I designed, and not how the client wanted me to.
Did you ever see the male artist that s**t on your first mural?
SE: Yes, I did in fact. I saw him when he did an installation at Coachella in 2016. I was working there and he gave me the cold shoulder. I used to think he was the coolest artist, but it sucked to realize that he wasn’t the person that I imagined he would be. Two years after my encounter with the artist, he was at the festival again. His partner came up to me and was stoked on my work. He told me that it was wrong of him to act the way he did and apologized on his behalf…but HE himself never actually came up to me face-to-face to apologize. I just had to do art and do my own s**t...that’s what pissed him off.
How long did it take you to do all of the work for this show? (in Hawaii at BĀS Bookshop)
SE: I met Aly and Travis in September of 2020 and was asked to do a show. I’ve been making these pieces since then. All of these pieces are from my new experiences from being in Hawaii, and my experiences post pandemic. Everything kind of just happened and it all fit in a perfect time frame within my inspiration and work.
Can you briefly explain Don’t Cry In Public?
SE: “Don’t Cry In Public” was painted in 2020 after a very bad year. I painted it with the intention of people not seeing it. I had lost my job, friends, family, where I lived, and ended up in Hawaii. Being here felt good and it was the first time I had felt good in a while. The woman in the painting is an image reflecting what love looks like as a being. She is actually sitting on an invisible person, finally feeling alive and growing colors on her skin. The snake symbolizes growth, and that it is okay to move forward with things. After painting the woman, everything else eventually came out in the rest of the piece, none of it was planned. I named it “Don’t Cry In Public” because that was so real to me as a child, I was trained to not show emotions in life.
I see a specific motif, what does the number 3 mean to you?
SE: There’s no real underlying meaning, three was the first number I got when I played soccer. Haha!
What type of installation work have you done? (leading into her show at HiSAM)
SE: I’ve been working at Coachella for about 10 years and I was originally part of the Art Department. In 2018, I did welding for them and construction work. It was just a bunch of dads and me. Everybody spoke spanish, and I had to relearn the language. One day I was approached and asked if I wanted to do a piece for Coachella. I only had a few months to prepare for the show. I made my installation MISMO: meaning “the same” in spanish. We’re all really kind of the same shit…which is what feminism really means to me. Equality. The names of the pieces I made were Lista, Trucha, Mismo, Old School, Baby, and Emo.
About the Artist
Sofia Enriquez is a visual artist from Southern California, whose practice consists of murals, fine artwork, wearable art, and large scale art installations. In 2014, Enriquez graduated from Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles, California with a BFA in Communication Arts. Sofia will be doing another collaboration with Dickies at Fred Segal in LA. She will be selling her pieces and taking custom orders. All work is done on iconic Dickies styles. Later, her next show will be at Works on Paper for Beyond the Streets in New York City. Her topic for that show is TRUCHA (to be smart or alert) : “be TRUCHA, find the world and do your thing”.