Sofia Cristanti is a Saint John NB based artist. She was born and raised in Indonesia. She aspired to have a career as an artist back when she was in Indonesia, receiving a Fine Art degree majoring in painting in 2002, and a Master of Business Administration in 2005 from the Institute of Technology Bandung (ITB), Indonesia. However, she had to put a pause in her artistic career due to personal and economic circumstances, she left Indonesia and headed abroad.
She immigrated to Canada in 2010 as an immigrant worker. She received the Cultural Diversity Award from Edmonton Art Council in 2011, it was granted to recognize artists from all parts of the world to enrich Edmonton’s cultural scene. Therefore, she started over creating artworks after a pause for five years. She has received many awards and grants since residing in Canada.
Sofia Cristanti has focused on conceptual art and had been working with many medium like painting, art installation, video art, and art performance when she was in Indonesia. Recently, she is focusing on painting with many painting mediums, and fibre art focusing on contemporary tapestry weaving.
Her interest subject matters are human behaviour, popular culture, feminist study, philosophy, political and social issues, culture, nature and its relationship that happens in her daily life. She believes in research and planning to embody her artworks, and it is her way to decide what medium, style, and technique that suits to develop the subject matter.
During her immigrant life in Canada she has faced many challenges as a first generation immigrant, one of them is how to maintain mental health. Her time was minimal when she had a full time job that demanded physical energy and mental health.
It is a really a big challenge for her to maintain life balance between emotional, physical, and spiritual needs, also balancing time between family, social life, and work.
Creating artworks has increased her awareness, given her mental and spiritual therapy, deeper meaning to what and how she sees the world, to see the beauty in reality. She likes to share the wisdom of her art journey. In her perspective, living with creative thinking gives life more joy, mindfulness, softness, and wisdom.
Live To Transform
Live To Transform
Live to transform is a series of self portraits, medium acrylic on canvas, inspired by artist Sofia Cristanti’s nine years as an immigrant living in Canada. The immigration or the crossing border experience has brought her more than just crossing a physical border. It has made her facing many borders between cultures, traditions, principles and encourage her to transform and be adaptable.
The story that is running in the mind, a surreal life of a restless body who is struggling with mental health, acceptance of reality, and the pursuit of happiness. It demonstrates the relationship between reality and her interpretation of it, and reflecting a life that has been crossing many borders that are tangible and intangible, dealing with conscious and unconscious, delusion and facts, reality and the surreal.
The visual idea is experimental, combinations of surrealism, pop art style by using industrial brands and the daily objects, and imperfect shapes and freely flying objects inspired by doodling. Visualized from the perspective of a human head and body of a butterfly that is a metaphor for transformation. It has involved designing, spontaneity, and also taking benefit from incident events in the painting process. Live to Transform series is a mediation of dynamic, fast, busy, and colourful life events, and a retrospection that gives wisdom.
This series was initiated when she was attending The National Association of Visual Artists (CARFAC) of Alberta mentorship program in 2016-2017. The program was held to support new emerging artists, and the series had been exhibited as a part of the program in a group show called New Voices 1.
In 2017, the series was selected in the Edmonton Convention Centre Community Art Program, and was featured in the Edmonton Convention Centre for a year, and also part of The Works Art and Design Festival 2017 Exhibitions in Edmonton. During May 2019, the paintings were featured at The Beaverbrook Gallery and Multicultural Association of Fredericton to celebrate The Asian Heritage Month. During those events, she met many visitors that expressed the paintings also reflected similar life experiences especially as first generation immigrants.
The Edmonton - Indonesian Diaspora Dancers
The Edmonton-Indonesian Diaspora Dancers is a series of thirteen figurative paintings setting in Hawrelak Park. It is a pictorial representation of Indonesian traditional dancers at Edmonton Heritage Festival or EHF, inspired by my experiences as an Indonesian community dancer period of 2014-2015. We were amateur dancers, came from different background of lives. There were student, housewives, immigrants workers, and professionals with different Indonesian’s ethnicities background. We danced voluntarily to represent Indonesian community.
Edmonton Heritage Festival has portrayed multicultural party, a place of old meets young, traditional meets modern, and classic meets contemporary. My passion was to capture the interactions between the dancers from dressing up till dancing on the stage, using photographs as visual references. Being in the body of the subject matter had made a strong connection to dig for deeper understanding. We were in between our own personalities and the circumstances as volunteer dancers, trying to enjoy ourselves, having the pride, shy, dressing up and make up ourselves or helping each other, dancing in grace and nervous at the same time, that I have investigated through the art-works.
The Indonesian female figures in the paintings have different colour skin tone that identified Indonesian multi-ethnicity. The glow and shine of their modernized traditional dress have a sense of romance and luxury, associating with celebration as most of Indonesian traditional dancing is a function for a celebration or welcoming to respect special guests. The gesture interaction shows the relationship between the dancers. I have painted some portraits of the dancers and myself to endure the personalities. The abstraction of landscape background is poetical, misty, and dreamy. The sunlight created rainbow colours illumination defining the beauty of Hawrelak park in summer. Some of the paintings are set on the stages and changing room trailer.
The medium is experimental mix media of artist grade oil pastel, a relatively new medium for fine art, with acrylic, oil water-mixable, and or soft pastel underpainting technique on thick 660 grams Arches watercolour cold press paper surface which helped created velvety texture result. The idea of the selected medium came from when I was living in a boarding room, where I worked as a live-in caregiver, I felt comfortable using oil pastel in my limited space and time. Eventually, I have developed it with the underpainting technique. I combined impressionism and post impressionism style and technique, inspired by Claude Monet, George Seurat and Gustav Klimt.
The artwork series represents a little immigrant story of cultural celebration. A symbolic message of how a group of female immigrants deliver their best of beauty through the dance and their individual persona. I believe it has similar circumstances with other diaspora dancers from other communities in the Edmonton Heritage Festival or in any heritage festival in Canada, and even in the world. I found it is one of the valuable folk stories that represents the complex story of Canada’s people and places nowadays.