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Bright, creative, imaginative: Sophie Lindstrom

The colorful chaos behind one of BHS’s most socially active artists

By: Lylah Jakubiak 

It’s March 10th, 2023, 7:29 P.M., Sophie Lindstrom is standing off-stage behind the Batavia Fine Art Center’s drawn curtain. She’s 60 seconds away from performing a dance as the opening act for Rock The Runway, 2023. 

The theme is chaos this year, and Lindstrom fits the bill perfectly: dressed in a black neon-painted yoga pants and T-shirt, a bright pink beanie tucked neatly over her ears. Has she meticulously prepared, practiced, and choreographed a dance in anticipation of tonight? Of course not. She’s about to run out on stage in front of hundreds of spectators and improvise a dance. No preparation, no planning, nothing. This will all be all spur of the moment. The clock flashes, it’s 7:30. The music begins to play, silencing the audience. The curtain ascends. She takes in a shaky breath. As she stares out at the curtain, she silently promises herself that she’ll be okay; she’ll survive no matter what. She adjusts her beanie and the music floods her ears. It’s go time.

Lindstrom runs onto stage alone, hundreds of eyes and cameras trained on her. She does what she has since she was three years old: she dances. 

Months later, Lindstrom stands in the BHS school hallway, staring at a photo of herself hanging on the wall. In the photo, her back is to the camera, and she’s wearing a black shirt and sweatpants covered in neon paint, hot pink beanie shining in the spotlights. 

Lindstrom dancing as the opening act in Rock The Runway 2023

When asked about how she improvised the dance, Lindstrom said, “I feel like music can just take me. I can be transported anywhere.” 

Lindstrom has danced since age three, competed for seven years, achieved 6th at nationals, and awarded scholarships for her ability, and yet, dancing isn’t what she’s known for. Her real passion and love is art. 

As a senior BHS student, she’s been in the National Honors Art Society since freshman year, is a creative director for Rock The Runway, and is involved in various art programs and clubs, but that barely scratches the surface of who she is.

Over the years, her unique art style has been displayed in the Batavia Public Library, on Rock The Runway, and even in an international art museum: The Sketchbook Project in Brooklyn, New York, which displayed sketchbook art from people around the globe. 

In fact, while in the hands of the museum, her art encountered quite a wild ride. On its way from New York to a new museum location in Florida, the train car transporting hundreds of notebooks caught fire. According to Lindstrom, 70 percent of the sketchbooks were unharmed, her notebook being one of those survivors. Her notebook was returned to her in pristine condition. The project itself wasn’t so lucky. A few months following, the sketchbook project was abruptly shut down because of “budget cuts” according to its webpage.

Lindstrom’s art wasn’t the only one to take a journey. (Don’t worry, this time fire wasn’t involved.) Last summer, Lindstrom got to go on an educational art trip to Europe with 20 other BHS students. Most notably, the group visited the Louvre, home to the famous Mona Lisa. While there, Lindstrom decided to skip the well-known art to find her own artistic treasure instead: The Young Martyr by Pau Delaroche. 

The Young Martyr by Pau Delaroche

“I wanted to find my favorite piece, not the world’s favorite piece. We only had 30 minutes. Divide and conquer, we knew we had to find it,” Lindstrom said

This sentiment of finding her ‘own piece’ doesn’t seem to only be limited to art, either. 

Kathleen Tieri Ton, a long-time teacher and friend of Lindstrom’s, seemed to agree.

“[Lindstrom’s] standout trait is her dedication to making the most of life,” Or, making the most of 30 minutes at the Louvre.

Lindstrom dreams of working for Pixar and hopes to spend her life inspiring and creating. Interestingly, she’s already immersed herself in the illustrative landscape. Currently, she’s working on her very own book, hoping to showcase her artistic talent and message of acceptance, friendship, and expressiveness.

The book, written by her mom and illustrated by Lindstrom, follows Ollie, a stuffed animal bunny with floppy ears and a big heart. He’s joined by a few unlikely friends: A “shy” fox, a turtle, and a frog named after one of Lindstrom’s friends, Cherry. While the book is still under major development, it’s already laced with metaphors and meaning. For example, the animal friends, a fox, bunny, turtle, and frog are meant to reference various well-known stories such as The Tortoise and the Hare or The Fox and the Rabbit. This is Lindstrom’s attempt at trying to spread her own narrative: everyone can be friends, no matter the stories they’ve been told. 

Ollie the bunny

Lindstrom smiled, saying, “Ollie’s story is all about imagination, creativity, and uncommon friends.” 

Like Ollie, Lindstrom’s personality and art seem full of imagination and creativity. 

Gen O’Shea, a friend of Lindstrom’s, mentioned this. She said, “She’s very bright, colorful, and enthusiastic.”

Funnily enough, Lindstrom’s socks are just as colorful as her personality. Only owning one pair of plain white socks, her sock drawer at home is a rainbow of hues and designs, demonstrating a curious hobby of hers: collecting- and wearing- brightly patterned socks. 

Her love of socks inspired her to run a sock drive as a fifth grader. Titled Operation Warm Toes, the drive earned her a news article in the Daily Herald and The Interfaith Food Pantry and Clothes Closet over 1,000 pairs of socks and undergarments. 

 “I’ve always found comfort in supporting others. That way of being generous, understanding, and giving to others is very important to me,” Lindstrom said. 

But it seems that her community support spanned farther than just a fifth grade sock drive. 

“Whenever I have something on my mind, she’s always there to listen,” said Haley Anderson, another friend of hers.

Community support is so important to Lindstrom that her choice of college centered around it. She’s planning on attending Watkins College of Art at Belmont University next year. Located in Nashville, Tenn., she chose the college because of Nashville’s diverse artistic culture, her family nearby, and a scholarship, of course. Lindstrom hopes her individuality will grow and prosper at Belmont, just as she believes it prospered at BHS. 

“I feel like I’m going to have a chance to be a person, not just an artist. I feel like I’ll be able to be more than just identified as an artist,” Lindstrom said.  

Tieri Ton agreed. 

“I think she really has had a taste of all that makes life beautiful, and it’s helped her make confident choices about her future.”

But that’s not to say she won’t be missed when she moves a state away. Inevitably, there will be some close friends left behind. 

“I’m going to miss her,” Anderson said.  

There’s so much more behind the girl who danced across that stage, smiling bravely as she stood before hundreds of people. 

 “She’s just so expressive and caring, always willing to share and help, with so much desire to make the world a better place,” Tieri Ton said,

Come next August, she’ll be states away in Nashville, on stage again improvising a dance, but this time, she’ll be dancing into her future.

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