Inside Out

Sophia Ainslie remembers her mother in color-splashed paintings.

sophia ainslie

In Person F, 75 by 55 inches, india ink, acrylic, and flashe on polypropylene, $8,000 (unframed), Gallery Naga.

When Sophia Ainslie’s mother passed away in 2009, the Somerville-based artist strove to connect to her through art. She began experimenting with an x-ray of her mother’s abdomen—rendering it in colorful fragments, and juxtaposing those with black brush strokes. “The x-ray became a means for me to process her death and hold on to her memory,” says Ainslie, who eventually created an entire series of paintings, In Person, based on that original image. Some of the resulting pieces have been used as models for larger wall paintings.

The more-than-6-foot-tall In Person F, pictured here, took Ainslie, who originally hails from South Africa, more than seven months to complete. “The vertical format is reflective of the human body—it conveys a sense of the figure,” Ainslie says. “I wanted to be able to look at the work and have it look back at me— as if engaged in conversation.”