The name is slyly deceptive: “Soft Serve” packs a punch. Sophia Gasparian, the self-described Armo-MILF (and an acclaimed socio-political artist) uses folk art style children to carry her messages of equality–social, gender and political– genocide history, and a hell of a lot more. She’d decided to retire from painting and focus on raising her two children (a feminist decision, think about it), when curator Esteban Lopez from Sector Seven Contemporary Gallery approached her about showing in an unusual location.
Gasparian had worked with Lopez at a gallery in Highland Park and felt he understood her work. He proposed a show at off-beat spot, Ginger Corner Market,neighborhood gourmet corner store/cafe in Pasadena. At first Gasparian was reluctant, since she didn’t want to show in a food-based venue. But after seeing the space, she realized it would give her the opportunity to show her softer works. And after decades of showing in Europe and the States (she was a child prodigy artist who came to the US with her parents when she 15), why not exhibit someplace utterly different and unexpected. Hence “Soft Serve” a gentler messaging of her themes, packaged for the stroller-set (she screened her images on kid sized tees), with smaller images suitable for hanging in kids’ rooms.
“Soft Serve” delivers some subtle messages. A girl stands atop a pile of skulls with the caption “I am still waiting.” A boy and girl stand next to each other, the girl holding a knife. The caption reads, “The way to my man’s heart.” A girl with her mouth covered by cloth stands with a little boy in a skull cap. Above is a list of tradition Armenian (and delectable-sounding) foods. The message is that she cannot speak, she can only open her mouth to eat, to be a traditional woman.
And though her work is archived at the Center for the Study of Political Graphics, Gasparian explains:
While human rights, ethnic dislocation, social identity and women’s progress form my everyday thinking and influence my art, I do not consider myself an art activist. My intention with each painting is to trigger an emotional reaction and alter the perspective of the viewer through illustration of a personal view point. I simply strive to illustrate subjects that interest me.
“Soft Serve” runs through April 30th at Ginger Corner Market, 217 South Michigan, Pasadena with a closing reception on the 27th from 5pm to 9pm.