CBAA & Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts
Sophia Maria Paz
In the spring of 2016, Sofia Maria Paz was awarded the first annual student-matching scholarship between CBAA & Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts. The $1000 scholarship allowed Ms. Paz to select one of Arrowmont’s summer workshops and achieve a life-long dream she never thought would even be possible by attending a Buon Fresco painting workshop.
Sofia Maria Paz is an Argentine-American artist, currently pursuing her MFA printmaking degree at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ. Growing up in Colorado, Switzerland, Argentina, and Texas, Sofia was exposed to alternative artistic styles which inspired her creativity and love for art history. Her practice is built on a multidisciplinary approach, with the core concerns of her work stemming from print-media, book arts, and paper engineering.
Combining individual mark-making with traditional mass production processes, her art discusses the relationships between memory, reality, and fiction. Sofia intuitively archives different sources from 18th Century art, social media, 1970s horror films, and fairytales, into visual graphics which honor storytelling history and reveal a macabre essence of the human condition.
“Ever since I was eight years old, I always dreamt of learning the art of Buon Fresco painting. When I saw Michelangelo’s frescos in the Sistine Chapel, I was awestruck and was determined to pursue a career in Fine Arts. So when I learned Arrowmont was offering a fresco workshop, my heart skipped a beat with excitement. Fresco painting is a dying art form, that only a handful of talented contemporary artists still practice today.
On a humid rainy July day, I hopped off a plane at the Knoxville airport with my carry on in one hand and my brushes in the other. From there a shuttle took me and a handful of others up the windy roads to Gatlinburg. Nestled in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains laid the Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts. You are instantly engulfed in the fresh mountain air, and all so suddenly, troubles and worries seem so far away. I immediately knew that week was going to be one of the most meaningful and subliminal experiences of my life.
The level of expertise and quality of instruction of the fresco workshop led by Michael Nichols, was of highest caliber. Michael was fully open and dedicated all his knowledges of fresco painting, offering special attention to each member of our group. Together we learned the processes of mixing plaster, washing sand, troweling techniques, paint applications, and how to go about creating large murals.
I still have to pinch myself at the fact that I actually now know how to paint onto wet plaster like my idol Michelangelo! Another factor that I never expected was that I would discover the best of people in the Smokeys! The other instructors and student workers treated me with the utmost respect and warmth. Many of whom, I am still in touch with today. It made all the difference to wake up each morning to enjoy breakfast with these brilliantly kind-hearted souls, and stay painting with them in the studio till 1am the next morning.
Aside from being able to visit between the other workshop studios, Arrowmont hosted a plethora of resident artists and instructor talks. Arrowmont succeeds at encouraging meaningful exploration and discovery in one’s art, by providing a nurturing, creative, open, and professional environment that welcomes all types of artists.
The only danger of going to Arrowmont is that you will always be longing to return. Arrowmont is a treasure chest of creativity, knowledge, and warmth. I am most honored and grateful to have been the first recipient of the CBAA & Arrowmont student-matching scholarship. Ultimately, I still can't believe I am now a Buon Fresco painter, and it was all thanks to CBAA, Arrowmont, and most importantly Daniel Mayer for initiating this partnership that will provide future CBAA students the same unique experience."