Today we’d like to introduce you to Samantha Greenfeld.
Samantha, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
For as long as I can remember, I have had the drive to make things. From childhood through my teenage years, I always had a sketchbook or some kind of paper around to doodle on. Though neither of my parents were artists, they always supported my creativity and encouraged me to study art in college. I briefly attended a liberal arts school in Northern California but dropped out due to some personal issues. After a two-year break, I decided to apply to art school and began attending Otis College of Art and Design in the fall of 2010.
I originally declared as a painting major, but during my second year, I hit a wall with paint. Why should I choose one color over another? What does this specific color even mean? Why am I using paint at all? I started to consider the canvas as an object and not a surface and began using all kinds of materials like paint and different textiles and papers as the canvas. Color didn’t matter anymore; I let the materials be what they wanted to be. After taking a mold-making class at the beginning of my senior year, I stopped painting and started making sculpture. Sculpture gave me a new sense of freedom, both in terms of materials and in breaking beyond the rigid edges of the canvas.
Since finishing school, I have worked as a studio assistant and art fabricator, something that has helped me grow my knowledge of different mediums, materials, and techniques for making art. In the last year, a friend and I opened O’ Project Space, an artist-run gallery in Lincoln Heights, which has given me the opportunity to explore curating as another facet of my art practice.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I am fascinated by the ways remnants from the past can transcend time and communicate with the present. Much of my work is inspired by subjects related to archaeology and anthropological studies. I primarily use materials collected from the world around me – things that have been discarded, lost, broken, or just seen as mundane and ordinary. I take apart, organize, and reconstruct these collected materials into forms that are at once recognizable yet simultaneously abstract. Layers of memory, time, trace, and human experience come together to reveal hidden narrative intersections that are only visible when seen as part of a greater whole.
My desire as an artist is to encourage moments of connection between people. One of my favorite experiences is when someone looks at one of my pieces and tells me how it made them recall a personal memory. These seemingly insignificant parts of life can turn out to be the most profound because these moments and interactions are often the most universal. The recognition of shared experience is the foundational component upon which a sense of community is born. More than anything else, this is what I want people to take away from my work. It is the thing that drives me forward and compels me to continue making art.
Have things improved for artists? What should cities do to empower artists?
I can only speak for the LA art scene, so I will answer this question from what I have seen in relation to it. The gallery and institutional art system once held supreme authority over what work is valued, but the artist-run scene in LA has given some of that power back to the artists. However, over the last few years, I have watched many artist-run spaces slowly transition to a more traditional gallery model, choosing to show work by established artists over emerging ones. As an artist who is involved in an artist-run space, I try and bring in people who haven’t had many opportunities to exhibit their work because I feel that this is an important aspect of what artist-run spaces should do. For me it’s not about the money, it’s about the community and helping others succeed. In addition to simply finding the time, space, and the financial means to make work, the biggest challenge to artists is finding ways to get that work seen by others. Social media platforms such as Instagram have helped somewhat, but it’s only one part of it. At the end of the day, I believe strongly that we, as artists, are the ones who can do the most for one another.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
To see some more of my work and get updates on future projects and exhibitions, check out my website, and follow me on Instagram. Also, come out and visit O’ Project Space or sign up to our mailing list to receive information on future shows and programming.
Kate Bieschke, Michael Kinsey