Triada Samaras

Artist Statement

I am an interdisciplinary artist of Greek ancestry whose artwork investigates personal and global issues: identity, body, voice, house/home, geography and language. The enormous impact of the Greek genos on my ideological system, i.e. the combined influences of New Hellenism, Byzantinism, and the lively, independent spirit of Democracy are in my veins, and unmistakable in my art, often despite myself.  This is unmistakable in my art practice as I shift from one home to another, then back again. For me: Home is palpable.  Home is visceral.  Home is unforgettable.  Paradoxically, Home is neither here nor there for me because I am a strong-minded and independent American artist as well.

I say interdisciplinary because my art practice includes a wide variety of art media as well as situations in which I explore the complex meanings of the words House/Homein philosophical, geographical, political and pedagogical realms.  My artwork is often auto-biographical. Through familiar icons I explore my feelings, thoughts, memories, perceptions and experiences. But these icons are almost always metaphors. I have been influenced by many creatives including Mikis Theodorakis, Nikos Kazantzakis, Kavafy, El Greco, German Expressionists new and old, Neo-Expressionism, Byzantine Icons, Goya, Glenn Ligon, Sappho, Maya Angelou, Sylvia Plath,  Rick Benjamin, Gale P. Jackson, and numerous other feminist and activist artists.     

I believe being human is often traumatic. By this I mean shocking, startling, unpredictable and even devastating. I know for myself this has always been true. The immigration of my Greek ancestors to the United States with little or no money is one example.  Half of my Greek family left their homeland for the United States. The other half remained in Greece. The loss of family unity, bonds, traditions, culture, language with all its nuances, and ways of thinking, is difficult to put into words. This is an undeniable starting point for me as an artist.

Over time I have learned to use my familiar icons and metaphors to dare myself to encounter something new and unique to my life experience in this world. I aim as an artist to release inner emotional and psychological forces to a greater realm, one that is imaginary and mysterious and even more powerful.  And physical of course, as it is a work of art.

Through art I can make the invisible visible and I can actualize my experiences. anew and beyond.  But I am not interested in the re-creation of my human experience per se. Rather I wish to use this powerful emotional energy as a catalyst that drives my creative process forward in the direction of something new.  I aim as a creator to release inner emotional forces to a greater realm, one that is imaginary and mysterious and even more powerful.   

The final artwork is a push and pull between my lived human life and my experience as an artist with the materials and the reality of these materials as physical matters in actual space.  Thus, my artwork begins in a literal place in my mind but ends far away from that place. The final outcome is usually a surprise for myself and often for others as well. Often the new artwork is the home I have been searching for.  This home turns out to be a place in my inner psychological geography, not an actual physical place outside my body.

I am interested in the transformative nature of art: the ability artmaking has to transcend human experience and creatively shape it anew. For me the art studio is a place of magic where ‘what has been’ can become ‘what might have been’ or ‘what might still be’ or other possibilities.  Using artmaking I enjoy being catapulted beyond what I know and transformed.
It is my hope that upon encountering my work, the viewer will also be able to sense, feel, or perceive instinctually the transformative movement that is at the heart of my artwork. 

Triada Samaras 
November 2019