Memphis, TN | Sculpture, Sound, Performance, Installation
Sophia Mason’s sculptures, installations, and performances have been shown in exhibitions internationally and in the United States, including The Dixon Gallery and Gardens and Crosstown Arts in Memphis, Tennessee and at the Fundacion in Comillas, Spain. Her work has hung at the Memphis International Airport and several private collections hold key works. She is the recipient of several awards and fellowships from Rhodes College including the Sally Becker Grinspan Award for Artistic Achievement, The Fine Arts Fellowship, and the Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies. Sophia Mason was raised in Madison, Wisconsin. She received her BA in Art from Rhodes College in Memphis, TN.
6 Come, let us reason together. Our faith was function— safety, care, and comfort. It went unnoticed day-to-day, but was appreciated in the event of a fire.
7 Our faith was stored lovingly in cabinets for cuts and bruises, no fault assigned, just waiting patiently. It was tucked under desks, shifted slightly on shelves when seeking out a spelling. And we saw that our faith was good, and it was good.
8 But now I answer unto you, my siblings, that my fervor grew too strong. In seeking the most good, I chanced to lose most of what was good.
9 I loved the microphone squawk and voices in carpeted chapels. I bottled them. I longed for equity in rituals. I fought for access to them. I reveled in gold-flaked pages trimmed in delicate lace and inky rick-rack. And I stole these layered traditions. I left our homeland, hid our commonplace faith, and sought instead to erect an eternal reliquary to it. But years into the forging, in faith’s place I beheld the phantom of a corpse.
10 Now my teacher understood the parable and warned me of my danger.
11 But my monument, the reliquary box, was sturdy at all four corners, with a keystone stitched into each arch already. The four clear walls were cradled in braided metal and I loved the roof I’d sculpted.
12 I listened, but I heeded not my teacher’s warnings.
13 As I weaved threads around tiny settings and reveled in my handiwork, my eyes fell upon the puckered satin cushion. And this is when I saw the corpse. A withered, leathery, skin-bundle that stopped light forcefully on its surfaces. It had a heavy head which burdened its tiny body, stunted before it even fought for nourishment.
14 It lay still, paused in its stinking decay by the rubber seal on air that I lay around it in its castle-capsule. Breath-free. Change-resistant. Pickled. Dried.
15 And lo, I heard a voice chasten me, “Choose! Choose ye this day whom your faith shall serve— you have seen now where one path leads.”
16 Before the final pane was set I tore the window with a forceful grip and let the inside breathe. As the vision cleared from my eyes I was beset by weeping. Weeping that marked each day of the passing seasons. And I stared into a bottomless fear like I had never known before.
17 My monument had corralled my faith like a flock. But without the walls around it, I was forced to define it, and chanced to define it wrong, again. The structure sags now in the southeast corner, but it gleams more now for its bent surface. I keep it. It no longer makes me weep, as long as I remember that with its lack of panes comes also a lack of what deity revealed to me