Beyond the Bio: Mafe Soltero of Sunfern Studio

Beyond the Bio is a series that takes you past the canvas and into the minds of the artists and curators who build the contemporary arts community.

Name: Mafe Soltero

Primary Medium: Fibers

Works In/Lives In: Mueller

What motivates your work?

My overarching goal with everything I create is to explore color palettes and color interactions. My main source of inspiration is psychology and the significance of memories defining who we assume to be. I’m also very emotion driven, and since I rarely sketch out my ideas, my work can be seen as an immediate reaction those emotions. Whenever I get an idea for a project I simply jump right into the creating process, slowly starting to make that idea come alive.

Why fibers?

While studying at the Savannah College of Art and Design, I explored architecture, theater, photography, and painting before stumbling upon the Fibers Department. My fascination with fiber arts developed once I realized the multitude of fiber-related techniques and methods that I had yet to ever study. Curiosity got the best of me.

How long have you been an artist and how has your practice changed over time?

I’ve always had an itch for making things with my hands, always keeping them busy. I attended art school for 5 years, and since graduating I’ve held a pretty rigorous studio practice. Last summer I started Sunfern Studio, my own business selling handmade fiber jewelry and home goods. Since then, my practice has become a dual focus on my fine art and my business, switching between making sculptural artwork and handmade products to sell. It’s a pretty tricky balance to get right.

What are you working on right now?

I create fiber wrapped sculptures that explore the fascinating phenomenon of color interaction and that easily bend at will, evoking memory’s pliability. The results are dynamic sculptural beings which emerge from their restrictive panels to activate the exhibition space.

What does the Austin arts community need most as the city continues to grow?

Exhibition space. I’ve struggled to get my fine art practice into the public eye here in Austin.

 


Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Mafe Soltero credits her Boricua culture for influencing her affection for lively color. Her childhood memories are flooded with the vibrant color combinations that surrounded her daily life growing up in the Caribbean. After exploring various art disciplines at the Savannah College of Art and Design, Mafe eventually found herself submerged in fiber arts. She developed an immediate connection to the diverse processes of meticulously creating objects with her hands. She exhibited her Tiny Monsters sculptures in the 2015 Smithsonian Craft Show at the National Building. She was also awarded the Young Emerging Artist Scholarship for the Alegre Quilt Retreat of 2014. Currently expanding on her Distortion series, Mafe Soltero focuses on transforming fiber materials into sculptural beings to represent distorted memories.

Mafe is currently exhibiting sculptural pieces and jewelry at the Women of Contemporary Fiber Art Exhibition at Art & Soul Design on Friday September 15 from 6-8pm. The show will feature work from six contemporary artists who are exploring the beauty, functionality, and versatility of the fiber medium.

Keep up with Mafe on her website, FacebookInstagram and Pinterest.

Beyond the Bio is curated by Art Alliance Austin. If you’re interested in being featured email Ashlee at apryor@artallianceaustin.org.