Spreading Self-Love in the Visual Arts


Q&A with Sonia Cara

June 8, 2021

Sonia Cara just graduated York University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Arts. She has a background in Early Childhood Education, and will be furthering her education at Brock University this fall to complete her Bachelor of Education.

We spoke with Sonia about her work as a visual artist, and what drives her to create and teach:

Sonia Cara headshot

Sonia Cara

AMPD: Which artistic mediums do you work in, and why?

Sonia Cara: I am a mixed media artist. I find a lot of inspiration from reusing materials that I find in my neighbourhood and city; “Someone’s trash can be someone’s treasure.” I am very interested in street art and creating my space through collaboration. I focus on the ideas of transformation, growth, through the feminine and masculine energies that we have in our body. I focus on balancing these elements and creating an environment to spread the message of self-love.

AMPD: Who are some of your artistic influences?

SC: Recently, I have been inspired by artists such as Johanna Toruno, a visual artist in New York. She uses public space as a tool for storytelling through Queer lenses. Storytelling and poetry are very close to my heart, and help me tell my story and create this beautiful magical fulfilment in my everyday life.  Another big influence has been Naz Rahbar (MFA 2019), a mentor and dear friend. She is an Iranian-born, Tkartono-based multidisciplinary artist with drawing at the core of her practice. Her passion through body knowledge, body and land and bodies and borders. Her exhibition “Water air, stones and Strains”, was one exhibition that inspired me to produce my “Writing with Fire”.  I did a free hand of burning marks also known as pokerwork or wood burning, this term means writing with fire form the Greek. The objective of this sculpture is the importance of reclaiming one’s balance through their own feminine divine energy. Every detail and line was produced with pyrography wood burning tool, inch by inch, I burn.

A slab of wood with the image of a tree burned into it

Writing with Fire by Sonia Cara
Medium: Wood and Pyrography (wood burning)

AMPD: How do you express queerness through your work?

SC: I express queerness through my art by challenging my feminine and masculine energy and focus on authenticity and self-love. The clarity of this challenges not only my artwork but myself, through dismantling the oppression that’s going on in the world, and reminds me to live by example, growing stronger and better to embody a strong feminine educator, and artist that I am destined to be. This is an ambition that I have for many art moving forward today reflects towards my painting “Window to my Soul”,

I produced it in January with the focus of being my true authentic self and living life with purpose and being grateful for each and every day. This painting addresses to the inner child work, and trauma that I have healed from. It’s a clear reminder that we need to develop positivity and positive habits in our life, we need to design the life we want to live and be completely honest with our self. Queer culture and community have been my seed of growing within the art world.  It started as a way I could express myself, through collaboration, and installation and grew to so much more. LGBT culture and community within the Fine Arts department at York University  has been recognized as a creative, devoted, hardworking and courageous, and I am so grateful to be a part of this every single day.

AMPD: What are some of your ambitions moving forward?

SC: As an Elementary school teacher, Artist and Queer Woman.  I hope to create a student-centered environment where what is most important is what is going on in the minds and hearts of my students as learners. I look forward to studying to be an elementary teacher and to dedicate myself to helping young students discover the beauty of learning about themselves and the world they live in.

AMPD: What advice do you have for young LGBTQ+ artists who are still finding their voice?

SC: Always expand your capacity to receive and always be grateful. And always design the life you want to live with your art.

Painting with mixtures of blue and pink

Window to my Soul by Sonia Cara
Medium: acrylic paint, recycled material