Sofia Perez-Dietz and the Importance of Art

Emma Weiss, Contributing Writer

Sofia Perez-Dietz, a senior studio art concentrator from Newton, MA, intended to study math and art upon coming to Colgate. However, after taking Studio Art their first year with Professor Luthra, they quickly realized art was their strength and passion at Colgate. 

“Sometimes art can do a lot and can do more, and push a lot more beyond what just talking or writing does. These are skills you practice for so many years,” Perez-Dietz said. 

In their pre-thesis independent projects class Arts 375, Perez-Dietz had the opportunity to focus on skills they wanted to develop in their own artwork. Although they dabble in various kinds of art such as painting and drawing, photography has been the focus for Perez-Dietz’s senior thesis. 

I had the opportunity to visit Perez-Dietz’s studio in the Paul J Schupf Studio Arts Center. When I walked in, I was overcome with a sense of calmness; their passion for their artwork evident from the drawings, paintings and photography hanging from the walls. I was immediately struck by the pieces they created for their Arts Thesis course — a modern day take on Dutch golden age still life paintings. 

“I was thinking about things you don’t want people to see, and I’m pretty messy, so I thought it would be funny if I brought the shit on my floor and took pictures of that,” they said. 

In the photograph, though, the items that we commonly see as junk or useless fit neatly together, the light reflecting off of each object highlighting their flaws, but depicting perfection when arranged in the scene Perez-Dietz created. Each of the three photographs are taken on a 35 millimeter black and white film camera with either a red, blue or green filter over the lens. 

“I was kind of thinking about consumption and spending money and what you spend money on, and how Dutch still life paintings are really weird images of goods that are from colonizing and violence and western expansion that has caused so much bad in our world. And there are all these pictures of it in this naturalized way,” they said. 

Perez-Dietz’s artwork is a depiction of objects that would be in our society’s still life paintings — making a statement about what we place value on and choose to show the world. The immense thought and care they put into their artwork demonstrate their commitment to their craft. 

In addition to art, Perez-Dietz is a leader of the Medusa movement: a student-led activist group with a mission to make Colgate a more survivor-centric and trauma-informed community. They contributed to planning the protests last semester, and believe strongly in its power to change the culture of Colgate’s campus. 

“As a senior and leaving soon, it is important to think about the places that you are a part of and how to make them not [f’d]up.”

Perez-Dietz has certainly made an impact on Colgate’s campus both with the messages their art conveys and with their commitment to speaking up for unheard voices on this campus.