After her mother’s death, a successful Atlanta metalworker is exploring her softer side

"I see [my new work] as a sort of storytelling, a form of meditation in the making.”

Corrina Sephora

Photograph by Cori Carter

For the past 20 years, Corrina Sephora’s name has been synonymous with metal, from numerous private commissions of imaginative stair railings and custom furniture to significant public monuments like Nautilus Passage at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. But when the artist’s mother was diagnosed with cancer, ultimately succumbing to the disease in late 2017, Sephora, a recent artist-in-residence at the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Science in northeast Georgia, wondered: Had she done everything she wanted to do? Everything she could do?

Sephora had dabbled in mixed media, including printmaking, collage, and light boxes. And she’d been wrestling with the nature of her metalwork for a while. The process had begun to feel too mechanical, too static. Her mother, a paragon of creativity and spirituality, had set an example of following her muse: She was a midwife, musician, herbalist, poet, psychotherapist, and practitioner of Sufism who moved to California from New England in 1977 before settling at an artist commune in New Mexico, pursuing her bliss, and embracing death as a beginning, rather than an end.

So, as Sephora buried her mother’s body in the Taos mountainside, she decided to “throw myself into my work in a new way. To really touch on my emotions, my intuition. I see [my new work] as a sort of storytelling, a form of meditation in the making.”

For Sephora, painting became as much a means of liberation as an exercise in processing grief. “There’s a certain energy it takes to work with metal,” she says. “You’re working with fire. You have to be strong and engineering. But I wanted to explore the softer side of myself, along with other realms and new materials.” Layered with spray paint, gold leaf, acrylic, copper pigments, graphite, and more, her textured pieces make visual nods to human cells, the moon, and the afterlife. Moody, atmospheric, otherworldly, and allegorical, they’re embedded with messages about climbing the corporate ladder, crossing over, and the universe’s grand design.

“Metal is pretty predictable. You can control it to a degree,” she says. “But the paintings speak back to me. They tell me what they want to be.”

Experience Sephora’s newest work
An exhibition of Sephora’s work at Mason Fine Art runs from January 10 through February 16 and will offer a few solid metal specimens—ladders, boats, even authentic AR-15 rifles transformed into steel bouquets—plus around 25 new mixed-media pieces. 415 Plasters Ave. 404-879-1500.

This article appears in our January 2019 issue.