Sonya Philip


Sonya Philip was born in the Philippines. Her father, an architect from Australia, met her Filipino mother in New York, where she was studying interior design. Her family moved to San Francisco and then to Hong Kong in the 1980s, where she lived for eight years before returning to California. Sonya studied art and printmaking in high school with every intention of going to art school. Life intervened, as did other areas of fascination, eventually leading to an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College. As a self-taught artist, she enjoys the freedom of exploring and stretching mediums. Disruption and identity play a large role in her work. Sonya lives in San Francisco with her family.


I am a maker. My path started with macrame and sewing as a child, but knitting was the lingua franca I found in my twenties. The needle arts, traditionally associated with domesticity, are at once a display of femininity and a feminist statement. I have always straddled different worlds, whether through my mixed-race heritage or the mutually demanding roles of mother and artist. I am accustomed to the interplay and at home in the places where art and craft intersect.

My work is born of patience. There is a simple intricacy in each stitch and an incremental care in making things by hand. I love to see how far I can push the craft or what unlikely material I can use. I am drawn to natural fibers and have respect for the direct connection to the plant or animal. I work primarily in small series, they might be discrete ideas or ones that feed from one to suggest another. There are times when the gestation of a piece guides the process. I take great pleasure in seeing an idea fully formed and even more so when the initial concept changes in a way that exceeds my expectations.


photography by Michael Wade