new Landscapes, New possibilities
"I learned a long time ago that reality was much weirder than anyone’s imagination."
-Hunter S. Thompson
Small town Texas provided more than enough solitude to be creative. Living in Childress, Texas, until high school, the nearest activity was the public library. I spent most of my time there reading everything I could get my hands on. In the evenings we would sit on the porch and I would dip my fingers into my mother’s watercolors to paint pictures of our pecan tree. After taking a few art classes in college, I found that I struggled with structured learning and transferred into social sciences. It wasn’t until I was 24 that I would return to art, after I had finished a lengthy master’s program in anthropology. A visit to Frida Kahlo’s house in Mexico City was the first push to break past fear of failure. Later, my husband and I traded vows as the sun set in the Gila Mountains, and something I can only describe as dreamlike about the canvas of New Mexico provided me inspiration to start my own illustration business in 2016.
My current series, Academia Tried to Kill Me, explores the harsh and often ignored realities of operating in a male-dominated field. Art is my therapy to express emotions that cannot be captured with text. Frequently silenced about harassment, assessed on my appearance, or brushed aside for male colleagues less qualified than myself, I found stark contrast between the reality of my own oppression and the carelessness of my oppressors.
My artistic style attempts to address my journey by blending abstraction and reality together in pieces that are both serious and carefree. Growing up in Texas and visiting the Southwest as much as possible, I draw my inspiration from the colors of the earth: the flora, the forms of the mesas, and the architecture of the cities. Most of my work is indirectly drawn from writers that have inspired me: Vonnegut, Thompson, and Kerouac. I am fascinated by creating illustration and tapestries based off of the feelings an author’s work evokes. I am most singularly drawn to movement of art through lines and geometric pattern. I use multiple media, ranging from oil, acrylic, watercolor, to cotton fiber and large-scale looming. I attempt to draw my inspiration from living objects and represent them in ways that can connect with audiences.
Through my work, I have connected with many women who have shared the same experiences as me, and in response to their stories I began Human Community Foundation, an organization that provides free services to individuals who cannot afford to indulge in the creation of art. My vision is to grow Human Community in Santa Fe and build an intersectional feminist staff from the community, ideally branching out sub-groups from the organization, operated and owned by women in Mexico and spread across New Mexico. I believe that the future of our generation lies in the power of women to rebuild a broken system and to nurture an instable future. Though this is only a growing dream at the moment, the power of female artisans I have encountered through my journey in art has been astounding, and the future possibilities for building a community of artisans are boundless.
In the very near future I am excited for the possibilities that the new Santa Fe landscape holds. I hope to continue my self-education as an artist and work directly with new communities of artisans across the Southwest.
Samantha works as a full-time illustrator and fiber artist and runs her own business as Agave Rose Illustration. Her work focuses on a blend of abstraction and reality that is affordable for all audiences. In her spare time, she operates Human Community Foundation, an organization that provides artistic workshops to those in need. Her husband and she are in the midst of a move with their dog Jack from Texas to Santa Fe, where she will continue her business and continue to grow her organization across the Southwest.
Words: Samantha de Santos