Sophia Zweifel

Photograph of Sophia Zweifel
Sophia Zweifel | Photo Credit: Marie-Hélène Nadeau

Sophia Zweifel

Sophia Zweifel sees public art as capturing traces of life through time

After studying and working across the country and abroad, Sophia Zweifel returned to her hometown of Calgary five years ago to focus on public art and the realm of public art as the conservator for the City of Calgary Public Art Collection. 

Zweifel has degrees in both art history and art conservation and has worked at several institutions and museums in Canada, but her interest in the art and science of preserving artworks for now and the future sparked early on.

“What conservators do is that we safeguard art and cultural materials, both for the present and for future generations. And to do that, we’re trained in both materials science and in art in order to preserve the physical, the historical, the aesthetic and the conceptual integrity of artworks,” she says.

These artworks aren’t limited to just paintings or traditional artwork. “I could go from one day doing textile repairs and stitching under a microscope with hair, silk and surgical needles — really tiny detail work. And then a couple of days later, I could be wielding full construction site PPE and using a dry ice blaster to remove the coating from concrete. So it’s a really varied profession.

“I got into it early and I decided I wanted to pursue conservation pretty much right away when I first discovered it existed, which was laid out like I didn’t know it was a thing until shortly after high school.”

Zweifel says public art captures traces of life through time. “Its art that’s not in a vacuum. It’s very real. It’s in a living, breathing space. It’s interacted with in all kinds of ways. And that’s just really such an opportunity for artists to contemplate that and to engage with the space that’s around the artwork and the space that’s inevitably going to shape the artwork in some way.”

Tune into this week’s Storytelling Podcast to hear more from Sophia Zweifel on her role as conservator for the City of Calgary Public Art Collection, as well as her thoughts on how a piece of public art’s impact and meaning can change over time.

About The Storytelling Podcast

Sharing diverse stories of creativity in our city, The Storytelling Podcast shines a spotlight on artists and projects that connect Calgarians to the arts. Part of The Storytelling Project, this series raises awareness about Calgarians who, by living creative lives, are making Calgary a better city, affecting positive change and enriching others’ lives.

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