Sophie Eichner – Rice University

Our backgrounds shape the way we live and act. They provide a foundation of cultural experience that defines how we understand and relate to the rest of the world. I come from no singular culture.

Rather I was born in Paris, France to a British mother and French father, but grew up from the age of seven onwards in the United States.

This mix, the blending and reconciliation between cultures define both my family and myself. I use my background to better understand new cultures, environments, and experiences in my art. I don’t belong in any one place.

But then why should I? Toying with where the real ends and the abstract begin, as where the two-dimensional ends and the third dimension comes into play, I look to preexisting environments and objects from which to draw inspiration. I blended maps of Paris and its suburbs, Richmond, Virginia (where I lived for 12 years), and Houston (where I now attend Rice University); Merging and abstracting the maps to form the basis of the piece. From there I then break down and further explore the boundaries between the worlds both visually and conceptually.

The edge of this map is comprised of abstractions projecting beyond the map’s boundaries: A metaphor for where I push my understanding of my own world and use my background to understand the word beyond my own as I encounter it.

There is no divide or end to the map; no end to the possibility of understanding and become a part of more worlds and cultures. A unique part of the piece is its 3D relief aspect. Using a laser cutter the different layers of the map will not only be defined by color but level. The rivers (the James and the Seine) cut the deepest, then the roads that link the different areas, and then the city blocks and projections. The “real” city blocks will be cut into the final layer, while the projections will be raised.

My previous work was primarily sculpture and installation based as I explored line. On a visible level, straight lines do not exist in nature. They are only found when constructed by humans; physically or metaphorically I am a builder of line As a new idea emerges, so do new lines. I draw connections between what I see and know, what influences me and what surrounds me, and what forms inspire me. I create line to make order, to find order, to solidify the ambiguous nature of my thoughts and gain a better understanding of the world and experiences I find myself in. These explorations lead me to the world of architecture; which I now study at Rice.