AP Studio Artist – Sophia Smith (STM ’20)
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AP Studio Artist – Sophia Smith (STM ’20)

At the beginning of the semester, I struggled a little with specifying what my sustained investigation would be. I would either choose something too narrow or broad, giving me difficulty to generate ideas. However, I finally decided to focus on the broken and/or unjust aspects of our governing legal system. This is an important topic to me because I eventually hope to become a public defender. Even when I was young, I always was bothered by unfairness and now I would like to grant people second chances in life. This sustained investigation allowed me to explore the flawed aspects of the justice system. It was sometimes difficult and emotional to create pieces on such sensitive topics, especially ones that people do not often talk about. For example, the pieces depicting the naked form of a woman covered in words was a particularly difficult piece for me. Not only was it challenging technically to create the correct form, but also emotionally because I could relate to it a little more as a woman. I have never experienced such hardship or injustice, but I know that many women have. For this reason, this piece and many others made me feel like I was giving a voice to the voiceless. I was empowered by the realization that I could help combat this injustice in the future. This was a rewarding aspect of my S.I.

Silence, Photography, 8 x 10
Cycle of Violence, Acrylic, 18 x 18
Weight, Charcoal, 24 x 18
8th Amendment, Pen & Highlighter, 10 x 6
13th Amendment, Collage, 9 x 12
She’s to Blame, Charcoal, 24 x 18
Criminal Mind, Charcoal, 24 x 18
Seen and Not Heard, Photography, 8 x 10

Please leave a comment for Sophia below!


  1. Hi Sophia. It appears that my comments can only be placed in all caps. I am not screaming at you but I could scream out about how proud i am of you!!! Your work here is so powerful. I look forward to seeing each piece in person and talking with you about them. each of them is very moving. I especially find “weight” moving and looking at “she’s to blame” is difficult. i believe you have a wonderful future and will be an outstanding lawyer. you will do well in anything you pursue. I love you! -Aunt Nancy

    Nancy Gapinski
  2. Wow, this is such an impressive series, and I look forrwrd to the times in which they culd be publicly exhibited as a collection, Apart from your obvious talent, your work reveals sensitivity, insight, and connection far beyond your years.
    I hope youa re as proud of your accomplishment as i am impressed by it.

    Sandy Brehl
  3. Sophia, you never cease to amaze me. you are extremely intelligent and artistic, but you are also very caring and down-to-earth. I can’t wait to see you grow even more as you move through life. I love you! Aunt mary

    mary sandy
  4. You are such a talented artist! I love the emotion so clearly displayed in each piece and the clear thought and effort you put in. I am so proud of you.

    Shannon abolins
  5. sophia: i wish i could paint a picture to express how proud of you i am. wonderful work! love, mom

    Jenny benjamin
  6. INteresting pieces! Your work speaks volumes as to the injustices we can suffer from the hands of others. “Criminal minds” intrigues me, are you showing that criminals suffer in prison, or that a prison cell is a revolving door where many come and go to write on the walls? “SHE’s to blame” is the sad reality of injustice that many women witness. Great job on all your pieces. Good luck to you!

    Kara Raflik
  7. Beautiful work!

    Shannon Wagner
  8. Dear Sophia,
    Your work is beautiful, haunting, timely. You are an artist. Congratulations on the show, on graduating, on getting into UW Madison – on being an exceptional, compassionate person.

    Colleen Harryman

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