Artist Statement

 

Her death knocked the wind out of me.

 

When my cousin Gina was declared brain dead at the age of 21 after years of hospitalization, she was caught in limbo. She passed on months later. We were a day apart in age and even closer in spirit. Loss propelled me into a journey of mourning through making, and gradually, as I healed, vulnerability bloomed into shared experience and interpersonal connection.

 

“It always takes two traumas to make a trauma,” once wrote psychoanalyst Jean Laplanche. Hal Foster, art critic and historian, clarifies: “One event is only registered through another that recodes it: we come to be who we are only in deferred action.” Death presents two traumas: the death itself, and the stages of grief experienced by those left behind. Through the experience of this second trauma, my work engages in a continual recoding of the cycles of life. Through a process of meditative repetition, I work stitch after stitch of delicate crochet, forming it into lace. This accumulation of detail is diffused through pure light into intricate geometric shadows that shift and dissolve, creating patterns that can only occur through a sheer veil of transparency — a boundary as thin but tangible as the border between life and death. The works pulse as if breathing; darkness sucks the breath out of the room, and light restores it. Motors hum with life within the work, turning the lace through cycles of overlapping shadow. Through this hybridization of the generational tradition of crochet with electricity and motion, I establish experiential signifiers for the beauty of mortality.

 

When I was born, my great grandmother Ida crocheted a blanket for me. When she died, she was buried with a pillow I made for her. We come full circle. Like crochet, we work in the round, following each other’s paths, eyes and hands tracing the same small, meditative motions that came before. I pick up the stitch where my great grandmother left off.

 

There is no machine that can replicate handmade crochet. It stands apart from all other applications of fiber arts as the most purely biological. It is the single most effective method for modeling hyperbolic geometry, the process by which cells replicate into ever-expanding layers, folding and curling into kelp, coral reefs, and perhaps, some speculate, the very shape of our universe. It is through this gradual process of overlapping that I come to code and recode, catching my breath only to have it taken away again.

CV

 

EDUCATION

Carnegie Mellon University, BFA in Art, minor in Professional Writing, 2018

University of Barcelona/CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts, Study Abroad Spring 2017

 

SOLO EXHIBITIONS 

2018: In Loving Memory. Ellis Gallery, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

2017: Messy. Ellis Gallery, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 

 

GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2018: Metamorphosis: On Form and Experience. Percolate Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA

2018: Family Meeting. Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh, PA

2018: Dot Gov: Senior Thesis Exhibition. Miller Gallery, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

2018: August Pancakes and Booze Art Show. Spirit Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA

2018: January Pancakes and Booze Art Show. Spirit Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA

2017: September Pancakes and Booze Art Show. Spirit Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA

2017: 15MinutesArt. Storefront of 5900 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA

 

COMMUNITY-ENGAGED WORKS AND EVENTS

2018: Metamorphosis Storytelling Night. Percolate Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA

2017: Live Screen Printing at Open Studio, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

2017: Do It Now!: Open Studio, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

2015: Nine Stories, Nothing Wasted, Nothing Unshared. Jubilee Soup Kitchen, Pittsburgh, PA

2015: Birds. National Aviary, Pittsburgh, PA

2014: Carrie: Casting the Iron Garden. In collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University and 

          Penn State Master Gardeners. Pittsburgh, PA

 

EMPLOYMENT

Present: Print Extern, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

Present: Studio Assistant, Rachel Mica Weiss, Pittsburgh, PA

Summer 2018: Pre-College Teaching Assistant and Studio Monitor, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

2015-2017: Internship, local artist Aimee Manion, Pittsburgh, PA

2015-2017: Etching, Packing and Catalog Design: Etched in Glass, Inc., Pittsburgh, PA

 

AFFILIATIONS AND MEMBERSHIPS

Pittsburgh Print Group Member: https://www.pittsburghprintgroup.com/artists/#/samantha-mack/

Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council Affiliated Artist

 

INTERESTS AND VOLUNTEER WORK

Present: Volunteer Pixel Artist, Sea of Greed indie game

Present: Blacksmith in Training, Fort Allen Antique Farm Equipment Association, Scottsdale, PA

2017 - Present: Project Sunshine Volunteer, Pittsburgh, PA

2017 - 2018: Layout Designer: Carnegie Mellon University Press, Pittsburgh PA

2015: Volunteer Painter: Riverlife Mural by Kim Beck. Fort Duquesne Bridge, Pittsburgh, PA

© 2018 by Samantha Mack