SFERA LOUIS, Visual Artist

Shot by Rocio Segura

Our Rockella Space Member Feature for September is Sfera Louis. Sfera has been a Rockella Space Member since 2017 and has a studio at Brown Bears Studios.

Sfera Louis is a painter and sculptor living and working in Brooklyn, NY. Unconventionally raised by leftie intellectuals both off the land and in the city, she first broke ground as an underground party maven in the punk, funk, and club kid scenes, generating hundreds of events nationwide. With music as a primary influence, sub-culture was her sculptural medium of choice. Sfera now pours decades of that ephemeral art life into her studio practice, resulting in a body of work brimming with wild colorful stories and existential riddles born from a life fully lived through art of all kinds.

Sfera works in an automatic free-from process playing with spatial and linear puns and intentionally preventing any single narrative or path from dominating. The lack of hierarchical centering is meant to evoke a shift in consciousness or relaced awareness, as the viewer must reconcile the apparent contradictions by allowing them to coexist simultaneously.

To learn more about the creatives who call Rockella Space home, head over to the People page for a full list of in-depth interviews.

Who are you and what do you do?


Sfera Louis is my artist’s name and I am primarily a painter in practice right now, though my first love is for sculpture. I’ve been in NYC on and off for nearly twenty years, but have called Brooklyn my permanant home for the last seven years.

Tell us about your painting process. Where do you find inspiration for the images you create?


My painting process is mostly improvisational, with a lot of editing. I start by getting into a flow state, getting as much out of my own way as I can, shifting from left to right brain, and begin with play. I let the brush dance in whatever way it wants, following my inner tugs and letting out whatever comes through. I know when I have “met the void” so to speak, and I stay in the unknown until I do. Once that essential subconscious seed has been sown, then for hours, days, or months to follow, I pay attention to what attracts or repulses me, leaning into one or the other, and developing what I see, or taking away this or that. Either way works for the image to reveal itself over time. I sort of sculpt the image slowly, with additions and subtractions, until the piece feels right, or at least no longer irritates me.  Hopefully, by that time some sort of pearl has formed.

My inspiration comes from everything that I have encountered in life. I liken my creative process to the feeding habits of a blue whale: I open my big experiential mouth wide and allow the whole ocean of life to flow right in, using my inner baleen to touch, sense, and know everything as it comes in. Then I push out everything but keep the tiniest morsels of concentrated krill-like goodness for digestion. Nature provides all of the patterns for inspiration, but most of what I take in is just internalized or subconsciously integrated over time, only to bubble up whenever it wants to, like a dream, during my automatic painting process.

You call the approach to your work Spherealism. Tell us a bit more about that.


The idea of using a term like Spherealism is meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek. On one hand, it does indeed give a name for an ever-evolving realm of thinking voluminous to fill a book (yes, I’ve started writing it). It is also a play on a self-proclaimed movement like surrealism as well as a feminist yin to the yang of cubism. Of course, we as artists are creating our own languages, symbolic lexicons, or philosophies all the time. Whether those issues we toss around in our work benefit from a title or lend to any kind of larger movement or not is entirely subjective and often in the hands of whoever is in a position to create the narrative of any era, however accurate or tuned in they may or may not be.

The sphere is the most primal geometric shape that embodies so much of my thinking and expression. Radical wholeness. The proof of “God” is in the quantum leap – the whole being mathematically greater than the sum of its parts. A sphere is a cell, an eyeball, the earth, the moon, and the sun, or simply a vehicle to encapsulate and deliver concepts of any kind. I could go on and on…Read the upcoming book to find out more :)-

That being said, when I write the word, I often cross out the ism part- å la Derrida or maybe Basquiat – because an essential thread in my thinking is that no particular opinion or philosophy should ever be centered entirely, certainly not to the degree of an “ism”, because of the limitations and division that implies. Postmodern nods to this, and thinkers like Krishnamurti articulate the idea of using words to share ideas without adhering to anything in the process far better than I may be able to here but trust me when I say answering this question could fill a book.

How long have you had a studio with Rockella Space and what makes your studio special?


Over 5 years, and I think my studio is a little heaven on earth… with southern and eastern walls full of windows the light is incredible. It is walking distance from my house which for me is huge.

What does it mean to you to have a studio space at Rockella Space?


I always say that Virginia Woolf’s concept of “A Room of One’s Own” is all anyone really needs. I am able to be an artist because of it. It is that major. I love being in a building full of creators, I love the Supers Eric and Antonio who take care of everything.

You run Art Salon at Brown Bears Studios. Tell us a bit more about that. How long you’ve been doing it, and what is it all about?


I started hosting art salons in my studio several years ago, maybe in 2018.  Salons have traditionally been a place to gather and share ideas.. We carry on the tradition, but in a very contemporary Brooklyn iteration, with people of all ages, backgrounds, artistic disciplines, and every walk of life. It is a social media-free space, which lends to people being more present and safe for vulnerable and authentic connection and communication. We don’t do a show-and-tell type of thing; instead, we present a work, say a painting or poem on its own and allow the room to react to it and share their experience of it. After that, the artist may or may not share a reaction to that or whatever they choose. Discussions of all sorts spawn from that, and they usually culminate in freestyle music-making or just a full-on dance party. No two salons are alike and each one sort of has a life of its own.

How important is community to you and what inspires you about it?


Community is everything. We are not separate individuals, we are inextricably linked to everything and everyone. My mantra has always been that no man is free until we are all free. We are only as well as our community and that includes all living things in our environment and ecosystem. Everything we do, think, be, or have affects everything else.


Culture sculpting, witnessing, or participating in tipping the tipping points of social movement just makes me tick. That all happens only within different concentric circles of community, as it is an emergent intelligence like a murmur of starlings, making the whole, the sphere of any group or event, greater than the sum of its parts.

What is the most difficult part about being an artist?


The transactional nature of mainstream culture and monetizing of every aspect of life and culture in late-stage capitalism makes selling our oh-so-sacred art feel kind of gross and makes it not super inspiring to play the look-at-me-pick-me game that’s the common paradigm for creatives today in the unquenchable thirst for content and 15 minutes of fame. The endless application process for grants or some “expert” to cosign your art’s legitimacy, the burnout from a bunch of effort expended NOT making art, but in the rigamarole involved in getting just another line on a CV… These soul-crushing energy drains are the expected dues to pay in the modern career trajectory to earn a living with art. I refuse to play that game. Yet we must pay the bills, access art supplies, and have the luxury of time and psychic space to do the work. It is a tightrope balancing act at times to keep your integrity and pay bills, but that holds true for almost everyone in these times, so I cannot complain. Some ways to combat this are found in aligned side hustles, creativity hacks to use lesser sacred work for commerce, and teaming up with others to shift the narratives, and take back our power as the makers of art, collectively refusing to fall into the “thirsty artist” trap.

What advice would you give to an up-and-coming artist?


It is never too late to start, and your only job is to get out of your own way and the art will make itself. It never will be perfect but will always be right if you do the work authentically, following your inner instincts and ignoring all and any ego chatter of what it should or should not be. Keep on keeping on no matter what life’s outer conditions appear to be, stand in the faith of your calling, and just simply follow your bliss.

Who are your favorite artists or artworks that have really inspired you?


Some of my earliest pre-verbal influences were the visuals of fabric, clothes, curtains, and carpets of the 70’s as well as Anishinaabe/Ojibwe and other native local art from my hometown of Minneapolis. I see all of that in my work to this day.

In Western art, on an aesthetic level, I’m most drawn to work from about the 1880s to just before WWII, with all the inescapable influences of that era. I do appreciate the scope and conceptual expansion of global art since then…All told there are too many artists to name. I love anyone who does art from their core being, and you cannot fake the funk on that. I think my favorite art is yet to come, from people we haven’t heard from yet.

What is the thing that you have done that you are most proud of?


Raising my now grown daughter as a single mom for a decade with virtually no outside help, mostly via creative means, doing events, and screen printing.

Where is your zen place that you like to visit in New York City?


The beaches and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden are my go-to happy places, but of course Central Park, all the art museums and galleries are indispensable.

What are your future plans both in your work and what you do as a Community Leader?


Future success to me is simply being able to explore my art deeply which is tough with all of life’s demands. This means having the time, psychic and physical space, and relevant supplies to do so. Everything else is gravy!


For community building,  I will continue to do the art salons, and anyone who wants to experience that can get on the invite list on my website.

As well, I also started a gallery in collaboration with Rockella called Level Gallery, and we are doing roughly one show a month in the coming year. For more info or to participate, sign up and stay tuned…


Follow Sfera’s journey on her Instagram account and make sure to check out other talented New Yorkers who are calling Rockella Space their creative home on our Peoples Page.