Inuit on her mother’s side and Greek on her father’s, Sophia was raised in Arviat, Nunavut, a hamlet home to Susan Aglukark, and master artists like John Pangnark, and Lucy Tasseor. Her childhood was spent in Canada’s Arctic and Greece where from a young age her keen eye for art was developed.
Her lineage is tied to masterworks artists, Axangayuk Shaa and Kiowak Ashoona. Sophia is a descendant of the Idlout family depicted on the Canadian two dollar bill, a currency artifact that depicts a dark time in Canadian history.
When she and her family left Arviat and eventually opened an art gallery in Lake Louise, Alberta, Sophia then 11 years old, grew up in the family gallery, Northern Art Impressions, enjoying talking to tourists visiting the gallery about her life in the Arctic.
Twenty- seven years later, Transformation Fine Art was conceived out of the loss of her father, Nick Lebessis, who passed away from cancer in 2014. “My dad raised his kids as true Inuk- Greeks. He taught us to be self-sufficient, to see the beauty in life. More importantly, he raised his children to have a deep understanding of the Inuit’s contribution to Canada. I grew up alongside him in the gallery listening to him talk so philosophically about Inuit art. I’ve witnessed him transform skeptical minds about the capacity of Indigenous artists to challenge misconceptions. Some he kicked out of the gallery while others walked out having purchased their first work of art. My father was a defender of the artists. He loved the Inuit and the Inuit loved him. I always considered my father the most interesting man in any room. He was a raconteur of great sensitivity and verve! I’m pleased to be following in his footsteps.”
“He also loved First Nations people. He shared their love of humour. I grew up understanding First Nations art through Norval Morrisseau and Clemence Wescoupe, Daphne Odjig, Benjamin Chee- Chee and Carl Ray of the Woodland School of art. I remember playing in the backyard of Morrisseau’s house while my father and he visited. My father was Clemence Wescoupe’s agent for over 25 years. Clemence and my father were spirit brothers. I’m more than proud to now represent Uncle Wescoupe. I’m excited to promote his art and his contribution as one of the founders of the Woodland School of art.”
Sophia has called Calgary home since 2002. She moved here to attend post-secondary school, and graduated from the University of Calgary with a BA in Communications and is currently a Masters of Adult Education Candidate.
Transformation Fine Art, specializes in Master Works of Inuit and First Nations art, is an individually tailored experience for a variety of collectors with any budget. Sophia also appraises, consults on private collections, and welcomes speaking engagements on her life in Canada’s art scene.