Sophia Dawson is a Brooklyn-based artist who discovered her gift after painting a portrait of her father while studying at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for Music, Art and Performing Arts. At that very young age of sixteen, she witnessed that her work moved and touched people from all walks of life.
Sophia continues to develop her craft as a visual artist and muralist for justice work. In the series and mural titled, Every Mother’s Son (2014), she highlights mothers from the past and present who have lost their children to police brutality and racism in the United States. In another series on the Central Park 5, her objective was to raise awareness of and gain support for their suit against New York City. In Sophia’s, “Know Your Rights” mural located in Harlem, she worked closely with members of Picture the Homeless and Peoples’ Justice. The mural was painted during the summer of 2013 with over 80 volunteers from the community. In 2015 and 2016 she worked with Amnesty International to develop a mural that focused on individuals who are politically incarcerated on an international scale.
Although Sophia works independently as a fine artist, she often returns to her first love… teaching. In 2014 she stepped out of her comfort zone by joining the Artistic Noise team. Artistic Noise works with teens who are in or transitioning out of the juvenile justice system. Last year she had the privilege of leading workshops for adolescents ages 16 and 17 who are detained at Rikers Island. Each workshop provided the space for her to bring her creative process to the classroom while simultaneously allowing youth to voice their feelings towards social justice issues of their choice. The amalgamation of subject matter within her personal work and work with Artistic Noise lends to a full circle experience for the artist.
Sophia Dawson was a 2017-2018 resident in the Whitney Independent Studio program. There she studied theory and practice with curators, writers and Whitney staff throughout this year as she continues to develop work. Her aim is to grow as a professional artist and arts administrator. Sophia has been a teaching artist with Bailey’s since 2013 when we commissioned her to create the Paul Robeson Legacy Mural, located on the Episcopal Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew. From there she has become our lead visual arts teacher.