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Sophia Burke | All About Boys

It is with great pleasure that we are able to present the tenth installment of our continuing partnership with Island Mountain Arts Summer School of the Arts in Wells, BC and their annual artist-in-residency program in the Toni Onley Art Project. Each year we offer an opportunity for an emerging artist to have a solo exhibit here at the Penticton Art Gallery, as an incentive for one of the participants to continue on with the ideas and projects started while participating in this intense nine day studio program. This ongoing partnership with Island Mountain Arts is also of great value to artists from the Okanagan as the Bernie and Toni Cattani Family Foundation has committed funds to send at least one regional artist up to Wells to participate in this program. This past summer’s recipient of the Cattani Bursary was Donna Cowles, art teacher at Summerland Secondary. In 2015 the Toni Onley Artist Project is pleased to feature as its mentors: Harold Klunder, RCA of Montreal and Ciara Phillips an Ottawa born artist who currently calls Glasgow, Scotland home and in 2014 was the first Canadian artist to be nominated for the prestigious Turner Prize. If you would like more information on how you can apply for a scholarship, please visit their website at:

The selection of the artist for this exhibition is left up to each year’s artist mentors.  This past year’s artist mentors were the husband and wife team of Leigh Bridger and Mark Neufeld of Winnipeg, Manitoba and Joseph M. Sanchez of Santa Fe, New Mexico. When asked to describe their choice of Sophia Burke for this opportunity they each wrote:

“While there were many talented artists participating in the Toni Onley Project this summer, I found Sophia Burke to be particularly confident and mature in her process. Her drawing and video pieces have a simple, direct and often humorous quality which works well to record her personal experience and observation.  I also enjoyed the formal qualities of her video, which felt at times painterly to me in the consideration of flat space, composition, light and colour. Overall, viewing her work left me with the desire to go out and shoot some video - it was inspiring! I'm sure Sophia will mount an interesting show at the Penticton Art Gallery.” Leigh Bridges

“The group of artists that participated in the Toni Onley project were a very talented group, making the selection of a single artist difficult. In looking at the work there were many who deserved special recognition such as this opportunity to exhibit at the Penticton Art Gallery.  Our selection of Sophia Burke was guided by her work ethic, creative sense and willingness to mine her creativity in more than one area whether it be drawing, painting or working in video. Sophia's work showed an openness to exploring the human condition in her paintings of early erotic photography and visually exciting the viewer with interpretations of a juke box as contemporary abstraction entwined with human emotion. Her ability to create a body of work in such a short time span was also a factor in her selection as an artist deserving of an exhibition at the Penticton Art Gallery.” Joseph M. Sanchez

“Thinking back to the conversation Joseph, Leigh and I had around Sophia and her work, what I recall is that we felt she had a very solid direction, even though there was quite a variety in what we saw. It was all informed by a similar sensibility. We also felt

that the work looked great - like the projected film showing the inside of a jukebox, which in some ways is like a found abstract painting, with a nostalgic pop song as a soundtrack. We liked that the work was both smart and simple; it looks good, and is very contemporary — using new media combined with old media (like drawing). There were other very good artists there, but we felt that she was ready to take on a contemporary exhibition space.” Mark Neufeld

Sophia Burke is an emerging artist working in photography, video and installation with a current focus on themes of intimacy, emotion and narrative. Sophia studied design and photography at Concordia University, including a year abroad in Nantes, France to focus on her studio art practice. While there, she was fortunate to be accepted to participate in a collaborative class with students in Tokyo which allowed her the opportunity to travel with them to Japan for three weeks. This fortuitous meeting resulted in two exhibitions in Tokyo as well as another two in France.

Since graduating from Concordia University in 2012 Sophia was invited to participate in an artist residency at the Vermont Studio Centre through the generous help of the Charles C Gurd Fellowship and she won the prestigious Joseph Plaskett Fellowship allowing her the opportunity to attend the Toni Onley Artist’s Project in Wells last summer. In January 2014 she had her first solo show at Galerie Les Territoires in Montreal. Sophia Burke grew up on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia and is currently dividing her time and studios in Toronto and Montreal.