Louisville Magazine

MAY 2019

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

Issue link: https://loumag.epubxp.com/i/1108942

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Page 90 of 112

88 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 5.19 Continued on page 107 she has seen. ere is not enough space here to talk about her uncle who was kidnapped and tortured, or her father who was kidnapped and presumed dead until he just showed up one day. ere is not enough space here to explore her time working for the Associated Press after returning to Iraq following her show in Turkey, or the co-workers she knew who were killed. ere's not enough space to chart how she fell in love with her husband, an American attorney who purchased some of her work, when the AP sent her to London in 2005, or about their short courtship, complicated by geography, how he moved to Istanbul to be close to her before they moved together to Dubai, and eventually Louisville, all while Sora's work was receiving more and more international acclaim. "It's a crazy history," Sora says. "When I think about some of the things, I feel like I lived 200 years. And I'm 42. I feel like, wow, this is enough for two centuries of craziness." To tell all those stories, you need a lot of space, about 48 inches by 48 inches' worth of canvas. What occupies that space has changed for Sora over the years. Walking down to her basement studio, she passes works from earlier in her career — dignified women in soft hues, Middle Eastern iconography. e work is rich with cultural symbols. But some of Sora's earlier pieces read falsely to her now, like she was trying to paint over difficult truths with images of pride and grace. "ere was a lot of like — it's like a woman who just got slapped on the face, and she's putting her makeup on and walking very proud," she says. "And it's very difficult to say that now, but I'm never afraid of living my truth anymore." All of the pieces in Sora's latest show, Unbound Domains, up at Moremen Gallery on West Main Street until May 25, are far more abstract, and if not more removed from her past, at least less directly representational of it. e large-scale works, many of them products of months of free exploration of color and form, feature complex backgrounds that feel almost expressionist, with snatches of neon color. Soft and cool colors fester across the canvas into bloody concoctions; violent swaths of fiery hues calm into moody greens. Stare long enough and you will find things hidden in the paintings — a moon here, a figure there, or maybe even a few things that aren't really anything at all, like what you see when you name the shapes of clouds. Sora thinks of the work not as being about her experiences, but being driven by them. For her, that explosive section of a painting could be reminiscent of a car bomb, though a viewer might never make that connection. One wonders if abstraction becomes a kind of armor in her work, a way of confronting past trauma without being overwhelmed by discernible representations of it. After a lot of bureaucratic headaches, her parents have moved here; her sister lives in America, and her brother is an Australian citizen. Sora herself has lived in Louisville for about 10 years. "And in the end, I became an American citizen. As much as I hate stereotypes about Iraq, I hate them about Louisville and Kentucky, and I feel like it's important to my placement right now as being an artist in the South," she says. Her identity can't be dissected into constituent parts: she is not only an Iraqi, not only a Louisvillian. "I would never exclude just being Iraqi," she says.

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