Inspired by Leonard Shlain’s book The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, Sotirova previsualized a concept of vibrantly painted bodies demonstrating her vision of the loss of balance between the male and the female, between the written and the visual. When given the opportunity, she jumped at the chance to work with a New Orleans body painter to create “Embracing the Goddess,” a designed body of work executed in one very long studio session. To Sotirova, the project was a representation of the skewing of these forces toward the analytical (male) in destructive proportions. The work demonstrates the idea of a positive balance and the ebb and flow of the forces discussed in the book, but does so in a constructive fashion. Because she’s also a writer, it was important to her to explore the topic for its possibilities, rather than merely negatively demonstrating a perceived loss of balance. She wanted to see things as they are, but also as they could be if balanced, and worked with a creative ensemble to show all sides of the story in a positive and colorful way.
Sotirova believes modern media is too negative. “I just feel it’s so greatly misbalanced because there are also so many great things that are happening in the world, and so many people are doing such creative things. There is so much beauty.”
Sotirova believes modern media is too negative. I just feel it’s so greatly misbalanced because there are also so many great things that are happening in the world, and so many people are doing such creative things. There is so much beauty.
“Embracing the Goddess” is a highly metaphorical and staged exploration. The concepts that Sotirova interprets are important to her, and are captured in her imagery as elegant and energetic dances. Submerging herself in those concepts and working within the creative environment that she established with Cosmusart, she was able to give herself over to the project and produce a solid and in-depth body of work.
Her “Tree Of Life” triptychs are a juxtaposition of photojournalism and the abstract, a body of work that lies somewhere in between art and documentary. Sotirova’s chosen subjects vary widely, but as a photographer her artistic vision shines through in compelling explorations of form, color and composition.
Sotirova takes that dedicated immersion with her around the globe. In her body of work “Tree of Life,” she uses imagery from Burkina Faso, where the subject matter by itself easily could be approached negatively, and sees the power and strength of the native people. Rather than creating another staged and metaphorical body of work, she communicates hope by creating triptychs of journalistic images of the children of the region paired with fine-art images of great African trees. Where the images of children are straightforward captured moments, the images of trees are obscured with long exposures or seen through the collecting rain on a windshield, altering the trees and changing the internal context of the series. The link of old life to new life, the balance of strength with vulnerability, of real and metaphorical, gives the body of work a unique presence that encourages a positive interaction with the subject matter. Through her portrayal of the trees, in some senses, Sotirova also gives more solid strength to the children than their counterparts.
“I felt like there were so many parallels between the children and the trees, because on the one hand, even though these kids have so little, their eyes felt like they were really strong because they were living in these conditions. I paralleled the inner strength of their spirit to that of the trees. But at the same time, with that sort of turbulent effect on the trees, they’re strong and they’re grounded, but they can still be fragile. They do deserve and need caring for.”
Sotirova believes that we can all care more about each other and that idealism is reflected in her realization of this project.