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Meet Allegra Samp

Today we’d like to introduce you to Allegra Samp.

Allegra, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, surrounded by a family of extremely creative individuals. Growing up, I called my dad “art supplies Mary Poppins”, no matter what it was, if I needed art materials, he always had the exact item buried in his studio. Not only was every member of my family in some sort of creative field, I attended an extremely unorthodox elementary school, which allowed me to focus my time on art and play versus the normal structure of a teacher’s lesson plan. I was the kind of kid who saw a skirt made out of neckties on Disney Channel and then begged one of my parents to take me to multiple thrift stores to collect enough ties for me to hand sew my own. Really quite nerdy if you think about it. After high school, I took a year off and worked as an artist assistant before moving to Oakland, CA to attend California College of the Arts.

CCA is where I rediscovered my childhood love for hand embroidery and fiber, majoring in Textiles. I learned to weave on a loom and started obsessively hand embroidering raw canvas, stretching all of my fiber-based pieces over stretcher bars as if they were paintings. Being in a department that consisted mostly of women and studying practices so deeply rooted in “women’s work”, “craft” and belittlement, while my entire friend group throughout college consisted of male painters, I became captivated with the idea of art medium gendering. Why was I stretching all of my fiber work as if they were paintings? Did I subconsciously think it would be taken more seriously that way? My focus quickly narrowed in on combining the hyper-masculinity of painting with the femininity of thread, while sticking to my visual narrative that takes inspiration from childhood pop culture and growing up in Los Angeles.

I received my BFA in 2019 and moved back to LA shortly after, trying to figure out where I fit within the art world as I returned to my artist’s assistant job, now twenty-four and with a degree.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The hardest part is knowing what a difficult path it can be to pursue work in the art world or a creative career. As I mentioned, it was great to grow up surrounded by so many supportive, creative people. But with that comes witnessing the struggles of being an artist, or a clothing designer, or a screenwriter. It’s not an easy road and it often makes you question the dedication to your craft.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
Through graphic embroidery, weaving, screenprint and sewing, I investigate my obsession with nostalgia and background as a painter. In my work, I explore my unorthodox elementary school, I recreate my childhood artwork, I revisit favored locations and family dynamics, I capture feelings and emblems that surrounded my childhood.

These days I am exploring the growth of my practice. Up until this point, all of my work has been hand embroidered, which really hinders how much I can create. I am about to invest in an industrial embroidery machine which will lift my previous time constraints. I love the process of hand embroidery and will continue to practice it but my ideas are getting too big to stay small scale. I am also looking forward to an upcoming show of mine this fall (Covid-19 safe) in the Helms Bakery District in Culver City through their Projecting Possibilities program.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I am super lucky to have been raised in an environment where I wasn’t discouraged to take on creative endeavors, whether that be at home with my parents or throughout my years of schooling. I have a super solid foundation of friends and family supporting me, and that I am forever grateful for.

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