How did showing in the exhibition impact your career as an artist?
The work I created for this exhibition, Open Windows, marked a shift away from the permanence of metal and stone in my work, and into the fragility and ephemerality of paper. More recently, I have sought to bring these two aspects together, in a series that pairs the strength and weight of stone and metal with the softness of paper, wax, and hair.
In these minimalist sculptures, three-dimensional forms of stone are held in suspension by individual strands of human hair. Collected during the periods of hair loss following the birth of my children – a common biproduct of soaring hormone levels from pregnancy – these hairs speak to the uncanny union of strength and delicacy that is the maternal body. In pregnancy, every aspect of our organism becomes an active participant in motherhood – not only the more explicit forms of breasts and belly and sex, but even the most seemingly inconsequential: our eyes, our skin, our hair. Every cell of our body suddenly mutable, our selves rendered foreign in service of another.
These works speak not only to this physical experience, but also to the deeper psychological and conceptual challenges of motherhood: the ever-shifting equilibrium of self and other; our multiple identities – mother, daughter, lover, artist – held in a taut and impossible balance, constantly shifting, never at ease.
Samantha Holmes is a Bronx-based artist whose work introduces distortion to patterns and symbols sourced from religion, science, and history to explore the disparity between the certainties of ideology and the fractured nature of contemporary living. The artist’s motifs vary in legibility across the surface of the work, trapping the viewer in a continual cycle of pursuit, discovery, and loss. The work becomes a testament to both our desire for and disconnect from this underlying order. Trained as a mosaicist in the Byzantine tradition, her materials are central to the work: the permanence of stone and metal; the magnificence of gold; the fragility of hand-cut paper. Whether working in mosaic, sculpture, or installation, every inch of the work is cut and placed by hand – the slowness of the process essential to its message, each step an act of devotion that moves towards the creation of a unified whole.
Her work has been exhibited internationally, including at the Palazzo Fortuny (Venice) in conjunction with the 2015 Venice Biennale, the Bronx Museum of the Arts (NYC), and the Sharjah Art Museum (UAE), and her public art commissions include the NYC Department of Transportation, NYC Parks Department, Franconia Sculpture Park (Minnesota), and the ARTPLAY Design Center (Moscow). She is recipient of the 2018 Meyer Family Award for Contemporary Art, the 2013 RAM Prize for Mosaic, and the 2011 International GAEM Art Prize from the Museum of the City of Ravenna, Italy, which holds her work in its permanent collection. Past residencies include Vermont Studio Center, Jerome Foundation, The Watermill Center, and the Bronx Museum of the Arts, among others. She holds degrees from Harvard University (BA, Visual and Environmental Studies, 2006) and the Accademia di Belle Arti in Ravenna (MFA, Experimental Mosaic, 2014), and is cofounder of the custom mosaic studio Motivo Mosaic in New York.