About Sofia Jain-Schlaepfer
Science & Art
The mutual love I felt in nature, led me to study biology, the closest thing I knew to be able to offer nature my love and receive it in all its wonders. I worked for 5 years as a biologist researching everything from arctic plants to coral reef fishes. As I continued I felt more and more like something was missing. As if the microscope, grants, and quantifying into Excel spreadsheets were actually making the gap between me and that which I loved bigger. After an octopus ate my PhD experiment, I made a radical shift and moved to a little cabin on an island. I immersed myself in ancestral practices to be in direct relation with the land (bird language, tracking, foraging etc.) and dedicated myself to art that portrayed my intimate connection with nature. As these skills deepened I spent time in the wild, with earthen tools, clothing and shelter all made by my own hands.
The result of this winding path is that I move easily between objective understanding and the poetry of reality. I bring depth and heart to scientific ways of learning, and grounded understanding to art and the spiritual. I’ve learned art, science, and earth based skills are all languages of relation with nature.
Like anyone, the deepest things I have to offer come from my wounds. Some people sacrifice their true selves to fit into society but I did the opposite. I isolated myself from human connections in order to preserve my weirdness, sensitivity and inherent connection. I found friends in birds, allies in trees, and teachers in tadpoles. In lacking belonging amongst people I found belonging in something that will never reject us, the earth which created us, feeds us and holds us tenderly every day. My heart is so full of love for that essence of life which runs through all that’s alive.
I’ve spent much of my life honing the skills of invisibility and awareness as a strategy for feeling safe. I kept a wide angle vision for any sign of danger or emotional charge, but I also got to know which birds flicked just out of sight, and the wild beauty of seeing the whole world in movement at once. I got acquainted with the invisible realms, and its language. I can feel the stories in the world behind every object and being, and I can translate the ones that speak to me through art. Creativity is always at my finger tips, and I can easily pull from it songs, stories, paintings and new ways of thinking.
My offering have come alive in various forms: workshops at primitive skills gatherings, home-learner programs, family outdoor programs, adult creativity workshops, and community grief rituals. My deep connection with nature, ancestors and the mythic world finds voice in my art, music and poetry.
My work draws on my time in the Wisdom of the Earth Immersion Program and Apprenticeship (2 year long, 8 Shields program and Coyote Mentoring), and grief and ritual work (with Rowena and Randy Jones, Josea Tamira Cossley, Laurence Cole). I am inspired by many including Robin Wall Kimmerer, The Helpers Mentoring Society, Malidoma Some, Joanna Macy, Francis Weller, Bill Plotkins, and Jon Young.