Samantha daSilva (1978) is a Brazilian-born artist living in Salt Lake City, UT. She is a third-generation artist shaped by migration, assimilation, and her desire to create. She has moved over forty times as a result of natural disasters and life circumstances. Like many who have experienced migration, she underwent a process of assimilation at the crucial age of 10, and her relationship with things was forever altered by having to leave so much behind. Her artwork has become a navigational tool that helps to connect her to new surroundings and provides a form of consistency in a life full of movement.
She is best known for her large-scale relief sculptures that resemble topographic maps and cracked earth, made from found materials such as dirt and sawdust. The themes of this body of work revolve around belonging, spirituality, mapmaking, and resourcefulness.
“I create large-scale, painting-like relief sculptures. The works feature peaks and valleys, cracks, rough and smooth surfaces, brilliant and opaque elements, and are evocative of eroded landscapes, time-weathered walls, and topographical maps. They are representative of a personal map-making and grounding process that examines the physical properties of my immediate surroundings.
I was born in the coastal city of Santos, Brazil, and my family immigrated to Canada when I was ten years old–from there, I went on to move a total of forty times. The experience of being uprooted, and forced into a near-constant state of transition, adaptation, and assimilation has profoundly shaped me. Throughout these experiences, I have established relationships with these new places through my artwork; by soaking canvases in the pacific ocean off the coast of Hawaii to submitting artworks to subzero temperatures in Canada, to see the effects of the elements and environment.
My current body of work is based in Salt Lake City, Utah, where I have lived for four years. Upon moving to a new place I make a point of visiting monuments and other unique natural features. From these excursions and hikes near my home, I collect materials that feel significant, like iron-rich dirt, sawdust, and charcoal for instance. Once I get in the studio, I begin layering the canvas with local newspaper and plaster, refurbished paint, and finally, the collected organic material. The process is fast and is intended to provide an environment that gives these collected materials agency to create form.
The goal of this body of work is to explore themes of place, home, belonging, immigration, and the passage of time. I believe that these artworks serve as tools for orientation and provide a means for gathering information about the environment in which they are created. I aim to offer an alternative way of considering ‘place,’ and to question what it means to find and ground one’s self in new surroundings.”
“After Gold,” acrylic & mixed media on canvas,
36 x 48 in.
“Dream a New Dream,” acrylic & mixed media on canvas, 30 x 48 in.
“Emerge & See,” acrylic & mixed media on canvas, 30 x 48 in.
“Now You See Me,” acrylic & mixed media on canvas, 30 x 30 in.
“Wander,” acrylic & mixed media on canvas, 36 x 48 in.
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