INTERVIEW: SHEENA SOOD
20th September, 2020
Interview by Victoria Campa · Artwork by Elly Malone
Sheena Sood’s designs are colorful and inviting. She plays with shapes, layers, and the female form. Sheena knew she wanted to do something creative from the very beginning, but it wasn’t until she finished college that she decided to work in fashion. In 2013, her interest in travel, nature, and art inspired her to start her textile brand abacaxi (pineapple in Portuguese). Sheena works with a variety of mediums, including fiber, watercolors, and paint. Here, she tells Nearness about finding ways to contribute during the pandemic.
How are you staying creative?
Like any other time, I have bouts of creativity and ideas, and then days or weeks where I’m not in the creative zone at all. I try to take advantage of the active times and go with the flow; when I’m not in a creative mood I use that time to take care of all of the other aspects of running a business. Since this summer has been emotionally draining, I certainly don’t think I’ve been my most creative but that is all ok. I’m someone who tends to feel more inspired when I’m in a content and balanced space.
What revelations or realizations have you had about yourself or your life during this time?
Quarantine and continuing to run a business during isolation has taught me a lesson about resilience; I’ve realized how much I can really accomplish and achieve on my own.
Tell us about art (books, movies, music, etc.) that you have discovered or revisited during this time.
I just watched "The Soloist" and the latest book I “read” is called "The Open Ocean" and it’s actually an interactive book with gorgeous illustrations of sea animals. I bought it for a friend’s three year old and love it myself. Recently I purchased the catalog from Mrinali Mukherjee’s show at Met Breuer, a show I felt deeply inspired and moved by. It was one of the last museum shows I visited before the pandemic hit.
Is there a particular favorite piece of work you like to reference during difficult moments, such as this one?
I’ve always loved looking through Frida Kahlo’s diary book since it was published when I was in high school. Sometimes I look back through it during difficult times or periods of low inspiration and energy.
What are some silver linings that you've encountered during this time?
It’s inspiring to hear stories of resilience and bravery during the pandemic. A lesson I've learned is when you decide to contribute, in whatever way you can, new blossoms start to appear. In March, after a week or two of feeling quite depressed after seeing over 12 months of work and planning go another way, I decided to focus on something that I knew I could contribute, which was making face masks using fabrics and trims that I had already in my studio. The effort turned into a much larger project that is still ongoing, and because of it I was able to not only provide a product people needed and wanted, but was able to donate many masks, and donate funds to several different organizations over these past six months. Much more than I had expected.
What routines have kept you grounded?
I’d love to say that my pranayama and meditation practice has been keeping me grounded but in all honestly, with so much change and volatility this spring and summer, I’ve been so off the routine and I’m sure it shows! However, taking the time to really enjoy my first cup of coffee in the morning, to cook myself a meal at least once a day, and taking breaks to step outside into some sun rays, those moments are keeping me sane.
What changes do you hope are in store for the post-quarantine world?
A shift towards supporting more and more local, sustainable, small businesses. Commercial transactions have the power to become meaningful.
What has been inspiring you lately?
I’m staying in someone else’s house in upstate New York this week, and they have some really incredible huichol yarn paintings in the house. I’ve always been fascinated by huichol art, the intricate beadings and yarn paintings, so it’s lovely to see and be around these pieces right now. The ability to create a sense of depth through the use of line and contrasting colors, using only flat color, is pretty cool.
This interview is part of a series of conversations with artists discussing their experiences during quarantine.
Elly Malone is an illustrator and designer from Melbourne, Australia. You can find her illustrations and other quarantine content @ellymalone
Victoria Campa grew up in Madrid, Spain, and has traveled around the world with her camera. She mostly lenses women in quiet moments within their environments, and she is interested in exploring the passage of time, strength in vulnerability, and inner lives through stories. She writes a bi-weekly newsletter about art, film, and writing called things to look at. You can explore her work at www.victoriacampa.com