We had the good fortune of connecting with ALLI ROYCE SOBLE and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi ALLI ROYCE, let’s talk legacy – what do you want yours to be?
I have always taken photographs of my life. Documenting life experience has been a fire within me that burns brighter than anything else I know. I have been taking photographs ever since I was ten years old. My parents gave me a Kodak Disc Camera, which I still possess, and my love for photography began. When I graduated High School was when I really began documented my life and those in it. I had come out as gay at the age of 17 and began bringing my camera everywhere to capture all these moment of times and events with friends and family. This love of mine became an entire body of work that has span over 30 years. I have documented Atlanta’s LGBTQ+ community since 1991 and obsessively put all of these images in photo albums with details of dates and events of everything. These works are now permanently housed at The Stuart A Rose Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Book Library of Emory University (MARBL). The Collection of my journals and digital works of the 21st Century are also collected. This is my Legacy and I am still adding to the collection, as of this past Summer with Black Lives Matter and Georgia’s Voter Suppression of the Presidential Primary. I will be known as a Documentary Photographer and Fine Artist
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have always been drawn to photographing people and emotion. It is almost an obsession really. I feel the need to sit back and view the details of space. I want to capture life in a snapshot. I also like being in the thick of it as well. I have been documenting Atlanta’s gay nightlife for nearly 30 years. I have also documented socio-political work since 1992. I am an activist and will document as I also speak my truths. While in College getting my BFA, I took every painting and drawing class available. It was Professor Larry Walker who inspired me with his mixed media collage class. It was a bridge to connect my love for photography and combine with drawing and painting. I fell in love with this process which made me become a better artist. I have been selling my paintings and drawings for over twenty years now. Not only is it important to create works, but you also need to be able to have social interactions with people. I spent many years going to art openings, benefits, and meet / greets for creative like minded folk. I feel that personality can enrich the work to a person who buys the works. I enjoy building relationships with folks. I think that may be a plus, when it comes to showcasing works and selling art. People who like art also tend to like knowing who makes the art. I have a pretty easy going personality. Most of my collectors are people that I have met through many different spaces and places. There are always challenges to be a full time working artist. There is ebb and flow in everything. However, ya just got keep hustling. You have to be kind to yourself as well. Taking breaks to recharge is essential. Luckily, I have two mediums that I work in that are completely opposite of one another. Photography work and Fine Art. I tend to swing back and forth between the two. It takes different parts of my brain to create and that works for me! You have to stay focused on the big picture. I have always known that I was an artist. If you had asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up as a kid, it would be an Artist. I feel blessed to known this about myself every since I was young. Not everyone knows who they are or want to be. I dedicated my life to become an artist. I wanted it and I made it happen. My Brand is the name House of Sobolovitz. Sobolovitz was my family’s last name, before cultural assimilation demanded its change to Soble decades ago. At its very heart, my family has always been supportive, encouraging, and inspiring. They gave me a great gift: the freedom to express myself even as a very young child. That freedom and support has shaped me—as an artist and a human. In the House of Sobolovitz, I thank, honor, and pay homage to my family legacy.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would give them a taste of what Atlanta has to offer culturally on many levels. Since I was born and raised in Atlanta, some places hold nostalgic feels that I would want to share. To start of the day, I would go to my dear late friend’s restaurant, Ria’s Bluebird for breakfast. Take a stroll across the street and walk through Historic Oakland Cemetery to see some of Atlanta’s dearly departed. Then we would drive down Auburn Avenue, in the Old Fourth Ward, and show them where Martin Luther King Jr. was born, where he spoke the good word at Ebenezer Baptist Church, and where he lay to rest next to his beloved Coretta. It was be important to show the history of Sweet Auburn Avenue and the Heart of Civil Rights. I would then take them to The High Museum of Art in Midtown to give them a tour of some of my favorite works of art and check out whatever exhibition was on display that month. We would spend a few hours there to work up an appetite for lunch. I would take them to one of my favorite places, EATS on Ponce. The best meal for $10 in the city. We could then take a stroll down The Beltline from my place all the way to Midtown and enjoy walking around Piedmont Park. Perhaps grab a fresh juice from Arden’s Garden, where I was one of their first employees in 1995. NAP TIME. At Dusk, we would grab a rooftop cocktail on top of the Historic Clermont Hotel and watch the sunset. Grab some tacos at Taqueria Del Sol on Cheshire Bridge. Hopefully, off to dance for Sunday Service to Gospel House Music with my dear pal, DJ Vicki Powell.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Wow. There are multiple people that have inspired me and have brought encouragement to me along the way over these several decades. My first SHOUT OUT will always be my Family. They were the ones who allowed me the creative freedom to express myself. They never held me back or tried to push me towards another direction. They put me through college at Georgia State University where I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts. I could always know that they would be at every art opening however small or significant. I want to give a SHOUT OUT to some of my Professors from Georgia State University, that I still keep in contact with today. Connie Thalken, Nancy Floyd, Susan Todd-Raque, Ruth Dusseault and Larry Walker. They helped shaped me as an artist and also inspired me. I would like to give a SHOUT OUT to Susan Bridges of Whitespace Gallery for being my Mentor, Friend, and Neighbor. I have always been self represented, but she extended an open line of communication if I ever needed a critique or counsel. I huge SHOUT OUT to Randy Gue, who is my Curator at MARBL of Emory University. He has made it possible for me to have my works archived in a Library for students and scholars to see. I am forever grateful for him believing in me. Lastly, my friends. If it were not for my friends, I would not have the inspiration to capture moments in our lives. You inspire me to be out in the world to hold on to memories of who we are. The World is changing, as we change with it. I have held on to these pockets of time that will be with us forever.
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ALL IMAGES ARE TAKEN BY ME