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Art & Life with Samantha Fields

Today we’d like to introduce you to Samantha Fields.

Samantha, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I was born in Cleveland, Ohio. I went to the Cleveland Institute of Art for my BFA (1996) and Cranbrook Academy of Art for my MFA (1998).

I resist the notion that my story should inspire others to follow my path. I’m a teacher, so I take this pretty seriously. The world I grew up in is gone. No longer can you work a minimum wage job at Dairy Queen and put yourself through private art school and pay off your loans at a reasonable age. I went to the Cleveland Institute of Art. After scholarships and grants, it cost me roughly $20,000 in loans for five years. That’s peanuts by today’s standards. By the way, The Cleveland Institute of Art’s tuition is $39,300 PER YEAR now. That’s $157,200 for four years without aid. I got my MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art. It cost, I think $9,000 per year back then. I have the receipt here someplace. More peanuts. Today Cranbrook Art Academy tuition is $38,800 per year, and that’s without housing and supplies. For a two year program, that’s $77,600 for an MFA.

I teach at California State University, Northridge. It’s a public school partially funded by tax dollars. Did you know that it used to be FREE? I dreamed of living in California and going to school for free when I was a kid in Ohio. What a wonderful place this must be, where everyone has access to education! We charge tuition now, thanks to flawed tax-cutting initiatives (**Prop 13***) but get this: for an undergrad, it’s only $6888 in-state tuition for a full year. That’s $27,522 for four years without aid. Not bad right? For an MFA, it’s $8,322. For a two year MFA, it’s $16,644 in state. We also offer ALL KINDS of aid and tuition waivers for teaching, so some semesters, graduate students pay nothing. This is information is readily available on the internet if you want to check my figures.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
Disaster: the unfavorable aspect of a star; “an obnoxious planet.” From French désatre (1594), a misfortune, calamity; des, a privative sense implying removal, negation, and astre, “a starre, a planet; also, destinie, fate, fortune, hap” -Randall Cotgrave’s 1611 Dictionary of French and English Tongues (as quoted in Laphams Quarterly, Disaster)

In the past, my work has been about ecological disaster. I’ve also delved into personal, familial disaster. Right now, I’m dealing with The Death of the American Dream and the current, unfolding political disaster in the United States. The rise of populism both here and abroad is a terrifying specter. Using imagery from man-made, ecological, and personal tragedies paired with digital simulacra signifying hollow celebration, my current paintings comment on the present state of the union.

I’ve had students ask me, “But what purpose does art play when the world is so perilous?” My answer is always that making art is a subversive act. If you can step away from all the marketing and PR bullshit and MAKE THE WORK, then that’s the most subversive thing you can do. Remember, the Nazi’s killed artists too, labeling them “degenerate.” When we do it right, we are scary as fuck to the powers that be, and we should remember that.

How do you think about success, as an artist, and what do quality do you feel is most helpful?
External benchmarks of success fluctuate wildly over the course of any career, but the through-line for me is making the work and maintaining meaningful personal and professional relationships right up until the moment I die. If I could make work that does what Cormac McCarthy does with this excerpt from “The Road” I’d be happy:

“The frailty of everything revealed at last. Old and troubling issues resolved into nothingness and night. The last instance of a thing takes the class with it. Turns out the light and is gone. Look around you. Ever is a long time. But the boy knew what he knew. That ever is no time at all.” ― Cormac McCarthy, The Road

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I am represented by Traywick Contemporary in Berkeley, California with Katrina Traywick.

You can see my work ALL OVER THE INTERWEBS but keep in mind, there is another “Samantha Fields” who is a sculptor in Boston, she’s a really good artist too, but if you want to find me in a google search, I’m the one making paintings about destruction.

In Los Angeles, early on, I showed at POST with Habib and Emma Kheradyar and then art DiRT Gallery with Rhonda Saboff. I was represented by Lightbox with Kim Light, and after that, by Western Project with Cliff Benjamin and Erin Kermanikian. I’ve also show at lots of other galleries and museums. I’ve been very fortunate that way, I also think it’s important to name the people that have helped me have a meaningful voice in the art world, that’s a rare and precious thing.

You can support my work by voting the Trump administration out of office.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
All images by Samantha Fields

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Lillian Abel

    November 13, 2019 at 09:21

    Great article and paintings. How you express the heartbreak of our current society gives me chills as we all witness the suffering of the earth and humanity, the loss of opportunity of housing, affordable healthcare and Education or all.

    I too, could not put myself through University today. I graduated from Ohio University $700.00 in debt. I paid for everything by working in factories and University Libraries. I was also able to work as a Case Manager while doing post graduate work at the Art Institute of Chicago in Sculpture with the help of a scholarship. That can’t be done so easily today. It was also easy to move to Chicago, New York City and Los Angeles with very little money and live on a “shoe string”. I studied Art in New York as well for several years at various schools.

    How can people survive today in world where Necessities are Luxuries?

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