We had the good fortune of connecting with Samantha Fields and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Samantha, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I suppose people like to think that going to art school and choosing painting as a profession is a risk, but I never thought of it that way. For me, the risk wasn’t in the pursuit of art as a career, that was a given. I was always good at making art, and I never seriously considered doing anything else. To me, risk is when I push myself in the work to do something that I’m not sure about…a subject, a way of working, or a way of framing the work. Any artist that fails to take risks in the studio runs the ACTUAL risk of repeating themselves and becoming very, very boring. But of course, even still, as I tell my students…..”If you make a bad painting, nobody dies.” Once, a clever student replied, “We only die inside….a little.” Accurate!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Well, I’m not a brand, I’m just one woman making paintings. My creative and intellectual interests surround disaster. In the past, my paintings have dealt with a range of disaster: familial, natural, man-made, and political. The common thread in my work is the use of landscape as a metaphor for the stories I wish to tell. The landscapes that surround us help define a sense of self in relation to the world around us. Within the context of the sublime, visages of epic landscapes help us locate ourselves not just within a specific place, but within all of creation. We speak of the landscape as an aesthetic thing, but also as a metaphor for a situation: for instance, the political landscape. In a nutshell, I explore the relationship between documentary photography, digital manipulation, and the history of landscape painting to examine our current political situation and the death of the American Dream…itself a carefully construction fiction. While half of our nation celebrates, the other have is mired in despair, this dissonance is present in all of my current work. I don’t really see myself as set apart from others…I see myself as part of a large community of like minded creatives. I am a first generation college student, my father is a retired locomotive engineer and my mother still works as an administrative assistant. I grew up in the 80’s so I’ve been through numerous recessions and downturns and this isn’t even my first pandemic. I overcome all challenges by simply soldiering on. Isn’t that what we are all doing right now? I’m lucky to have married an incredible artist, and my very best friend, Andre Yi. It would be a wretched lie if I said I could do what I do without him. Being in this seemingly eternal quarantine (WEAR A MASK) with him is a blessing. The challenge now, of course, is the same for me as it is for everyone. How will we learn to re-navigate a post-pandemic world? Or, worst case, a never-ending chain of pandemics as this virus continues to mutate? As an educator, my mind reels with the logistics of re-opening campus. As an artist, I consider my role to be that of an archivist….artists make culture, document culture, preserve culture. This moment is being memorialized in real time by artists. I consider that a huge challenge and I’m grappling with it every day.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well we can’t go anyplace now, so let’s dream about the future. In a post-pandemic LA, I want to take my guest to a movie at the Cinerama Dome, I want to get the popcorn and lick my fingers and feel OK about that. I want to have Korean BBQ at Soot Bul Jeep and have the waitresses yell at us for cooking the meat wrong as they grab the tongs from our inept hands, I want to go to the Olympic Spa and scrub the last year off of my body, I want to go to the Famers Market at 3rd and Fairfax and browse around all day and get wine at Mr. Marcels and then fine a cheap sweater on clearance at The Gap. I want to do all the stupid things that I took for granted and I want to do them with family and friends and strangers. I want go to to TJ Maxx and smell all the candles and buy cheap yoga pants. I want to TRY ON CLOTHES AGAIN in an ACUTAL FITTING ROOM. I want to go to Dulce in Little Tokyo and get green tea donuts and I want to go to Sushi Gen and eat all the spanish mackerel and never once think about the bill. I want to go to art openings and museums, MOCA, The Huntington, The Norton Simon, The Science Center, The Natural History Museum. LACMA is just a hole in the ground right now, but I want to go back there too. I want to see live music with my husband who loves live music more than anyone I know and I won’t even complain about standing in line. I want to walk down any street in this beautiful city and not have to cross to the other side because someone isn’t wearing a mask. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Oh this is like the Oscars but instead of a gown and a statue I’m in my joggers at my teach from home station…I like it! Speaking of teaching from home, I’m going to shoutout to my students, past and present, at CSUN Northridge. I’ve been teaching there since 1998, a long time! I love working with students to help them realize their ideas, but what they seldom realize is that they teach me things too…all the time. The sheer amount of personal stories I hold is a treasure beyond value, they bring as much to the table as I do. I’m a better person for having taught for so many years. I have far too many students to list, but if you are reading this, I’M TALKING TO YOU! And of course, I would not be half the teacher I am without the mentorship of artist and former Artist in Residence at The Cranbrook Academy of Art, Beverly Fishman.
Facebook: NEVER AGAIN
All Images: Samantha Fields