Filiz: An artist, studio and shop that’s mindful, natural… and slightly imperfect
A One Breath Painting by Filiz Soyak in situ.
One Breath painting by Filiz Soyak.
In a skinny old building that leans whimsically to the left, on upper Warren Street in Hudson, Filiz Studio+Shop feels tranquil and stylish.
The relaxed atmosphere in the art studio/shop (filled with art, artisan crafted housewares, pottery, textiles, jewelry and other special things) has been cultivated by the self-evident skill, international perspective and conscious breath of the shop’s artist and owner, Filiz Soyak.
Soyak is moved to present her paintings, and carry the work of other diverse makers, guided by the Japanese aesthetic concept of wabi-sabi. Intentionally difficult to define, wabi-sabi embraces evidence of the creative process (like a fingerprint in a finished ceramic teacup), which adds to the visual and existential value of a creation. In the conception of Filiz (the store), Soyak (the person) said she wanted a space to share and sell her art where visitors could see the work in the context of a comforting lived-in environment. Along with selling her art and collaborating with makers whose work is harmonious with her own, Soyak has also begun hosting art workshops that focus on mindfulness.
“My new work is really focused on the practice and the process,” said Soyak of her paintings. “Over time, this ‘One Breath’ series came out where I realized I was inhaling and making a line, then exhaling and making a line. Over time these shapes and these stories of me as a mother, relating to my daughter, my husband, to the world, came through in these very simple forms.”
Born in Belgium to a Turkish father and Swedish mother, Soyak spent six-plus formative years living in Japan before moving from Tokyo to the little town of Clinton, in upstate New York. It was a disorienting culture shock at first.
“I was in Japan from 5 to 13. During that time I learned to speak Japanese and calligraphy and Japanese aesthetics. Japan was a huge influence but I didn’t know it until we moved,” said Soyak, whose parents moved back to Japan years later (while Soyak was attending University of Vermont), which helped keep the nation's culture influential in her life. “I was a very introverted child. Because we moved around so much, art was always my consistent language.”
After college, Soyak moved into Boston’s urban art colony Fort Point (since rebranded as Seaport) where she lived and worked among 400 other artists. She then began teaching art and building curriculums internationally in Jordan and then Barbados.
“I had no plans to move back to the states but my ex’s job took us back to NYC,” Soyak said. I couldn’t find a job teaching art anywhere. I taught art off a cart in Harlem and it was depressing. I felt so sad that this is the art kids are getting exposed to in these schools.”
After nearly giving up on New York she found a rewarding job in curriculum, and in a few years she married her husband Gregg Carey, had their daughter Suvi and moved to Hudson. Then all of a sudden, with motherhood as a fulcrum, Soyak’s goals and ambitions reoriented themselves.
“I just didn’t want to do what I had been doing anymore. I’d changed so much. I decided to commit what little time I have available to being an artist,” Soyak said. “I’ve been exhibiting and selling my work internationally since 2001, so I’ve had success, I’ve just never done it 100 percent of the time. I find my work really therapeutic.”
Soyak’s “One Breath” series' results are deep black shapes that wash kinetically across the canvas, often highlighted in gold or other color bursts. Because the nature of her painting process is driven by the ephemeral emotion of the moment, Soyak says that instead of thinking about the meaning of her work before creating it, she evaluates her own feelings when looking at her painting after it’s completed.
“My artwork teaches me so much about myself and the older I get I discover why I do things the way I do,” she said. “My art is intuitive driven. I rarely plan out a collection or a series; it’s just an expression and then, looking back at my work, I learn about what I was going through.”
Filiz, like a growing number of storefronts in Hudson, is not just a place to shop for items of remarkable craftsmanship and beautiful paintings. It’s the physical, retail expression of the shopkeeper’s personality, beliefs and spirit. Filiz and other businesses run with similar personal earnestness (many of them named after the women who own them) are now a big part of the reason Hudson has remained vital, even in its current life as a tourist darling. Filiz is more than a shop, it’s a real person, and a personal experience.
715 Warren St., Hudson, NY
Thursday–Saturday: 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sunday: 12-5 p.m.
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