Junior Sophie Spector is the December Artist of the Month for her skill in a widespread of arts from playing from Alto sax, ceramics, crocheting and cross stitching. She shows an appreciation for art in a variety of forms.
How does it feel to juggle running the Old Grannies club, practicing the alto saxophone, and creating ceramics projects?
Well, frankly, it doesn’t really feel like juggling most of the time. I have such a multitude of interests that I find I’ve always have had to compromise and sacrifice at least some of them, but when it comes to the sewing, pottery, and jazz, those are my activities that are uncompromisable, and they’re so important to how I define myself, I always make time for them in one way or another.
Why did you start playing saxophone?
My mom actually played before I was born, so we had a saxophone in the house. I picked it up and started playing, and I continued playing ever since. I think it was something about its command of the audience. It’s loud, but it’s also really pretty. It’s a really good compromise, I think.
What is the funniest memory you have of playing jazz?
There are a lot of times where I’ll laugh while taking a solo. There’s not a specific funny moment, but sometimes people make the worst solos. Just when you’re not feeling it, the weirdest noises come out of your horn or the worst squeak in the world. Even after ten years of playing, it still happens. We laugh it off. It happens to everybody.
What do you enjoy about saxophone?
I think a lot of people expect me to play the piano or something because saxophone in Jazz isn’t common for a girl to play. So when people see me soloing on stage with the whole band as the only girl, they are always surprised.
Were there any times when you thought about quitting?
Saxophone takes up a lot of time, especially with being in two bands this year and taking classes outside of school. There are seven or more hours of practicing a week and a lot of class time. I probably thought about quitting a couple times in middle school, but once I got into jazz at the end of middle school and beginning of high school, it was definitely something that I wanted to stick with. It wasn’t just a class I had to take but was more of a hobby that I wanted to do.
What are your hopes for the future in terms of playing saxophone?
I don’t plan to make a career out of it, but I enjoy playing it enough that I hope to go to a college with a good jazz program; it’s on my list of requirements. I hope to continue playing as a hobby and for fun for as long as possible and maybe do some gigs throughout my life. It’s a skill I’ve worked on a long time on, so it would be great to keep it going.
Are you looking to pursuing anything art related, after high school?
I personally want to go into pre-med, so it’s a very different route from art which is always so funny because I’ve always been a very artistic person. I think if I wasn’t as interested in science as I am, I would definitely go into the arts. Unfortunately, science outweighs that, but in another life, I definitely could see myself pursuing art.
How were you introduced to ceramics?
There weren’t a lot of ceramics opportunities. I feel like I just poked at the clay a lot. There weren’t wheels, and there’s a big difference between wheel throwing and handbuilding. In middle school and elementary school the only opportunities you have are hands on, and I prefer wheel throwing. I never really had exposure to that until I was here, so I think that’s really what changed for me. I wouldn’t say it was a particular person, but I would say there were a couple seniors from when I was a freshman, and sophomores, who really symbolized ceramics for me. They were just turning out so many pieces that were so amazing, and I strive to be able to do that.
What do you like about ceramics?
It’s really not something that I can pinpoint. When I first got Ceramics on my schedule in freshman year, I was disappointed. I wanted to be in Graphics actually, but there was something about watching the seniors who were so good at making pottery. I just had so much respect for them. I’m also a very hands on person, so I think there was an automatic attraction to it. Since then it has become more and more attractive to me as I have expanded my abilities.
What does ceramics symbolize for you?
For me it’s a combination of something relaxing and something that pushes me. The ceramics room is kind of like my home. I’m here all the time, but actually working on ceramics can be infuriating–during the past week, I dropped two things. Other times it can really rewarding and symbolizes a good way to vent creativity and destress while creating cool things.
How would you describe your style?
That’s the one thing that I really want to work on this year. I don’t think I’ve been able to pinpoint a style for myself. I’ve really been experimenting with a lot of things. Last year, I did this whole zen doodle phase. This year, I started painting flowers. I’ve also just been doing solid colors and simple bowls. I really haven’t made a style for myself yet because there is so much that appeals to me right now, so I’m working on finding something that I like that I can stick to.
What’s your thought process when you start a new project?
I don’t try to choose what I’m going to make beforehand. So whatever comes off the wheel, I go from there, and usually, the shape will inspire me to the next step. I always start with a chunk of clay and go from there.
Does taking so many art related classes ever seem excessive?
In terms of similarity, yes! I think that they are actually very similar in some ways- at least for sewing and ceramics. I am a very hands on person, and both ceramics and sewing require fine hand motor skills as well as a bit of artistic ability. Both are a balance between craftsmanship and art, and I think that’s my niche–I’m not good enough at art alone to be a painter or to sketch or sculpt, but when I apply creativity to things like sewing and ceramics, that’s when my best talents come out.
Who got you into cross stitching/embroidering? When?
I sew clothing on a machine, so I think it was a natural progression: if I can sew on the machine, then it would also be cool to sew by hand; if I could sew by hand it would also be cool if I could embroider; if I can embroider it would also be cool if I could cross stitch. I didn’t learn from anybody except for Youtube.
When did the Old Grannies club start?
It was started a while ago, so I’m just continuing it. Last year, all of the seniors graduated, and there wasn’t an elected president. I had been a part of it before, so Mrs. Massoff, who is the advisor, and I talked and decided we needed to keep it going. Karen Douglas, the girl who started it, passed away a couple years ago, so continuing it is really important to to Karen and her family. It’s also such a great place for a lot of people, and so far it has been a lot of fun. Junior Ally Beizer and I decided to take the roles of officers and help start it up again.
What are the projects that the club is working on now?
Now, everybody kind of is doing their own thing, so we set everybody up with either yarn for knitting or crocheting or thread for embroidery or cross stitching. We left it up to everybody to do whatever they want. We are obviously helping everybody learn who doesn’t know, so we have a lot of different projects going on, and people embroidering are starting with flowers and making their names or funny phrases. Then, the people who are knitting are making some scarves. It’s really fun to see everybody working on such different things.
Which is your most favorite art form? least?
Least/most favorite is hard to answer, I love to do them all equally, and they’re all different, it’s hard to compare. I like them all equally but for different reasons, so sometimes I enjoy doing some activities more than others, like when I need to relax I do ceramics and when I have a lot of energy I play my sax.