Samantha Van Heest

Pull-Shapes (Duet)

Image 1 of 4

Oil on canvas, 2020, 16 x 12" ea

Artist Statement

My work explores memory via still life, found objects, and portraiture in minimalist representational painting and drawing. It reflects my desire to remember both the significant events and the small and intimate moments in life. My focus on memory began after my late grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  I watched as his memory and personality faded and ultimately disappeared. My work acts as a visual catalogue for my memories, a secure physical representation of how I remembered a moment.  I romanticize the minutiae of everyday life, and I want to communicate the monumental impact of ephemera as I remember it by visually referencing a handful of objects that symbolize the whole scene. 

What may initially appear as non-sequitur represents my exploration of the limitations of long-term memory and how our mind retains specific details that serve as a reminder for the whole instance. Minimal backgrounds speak to our brain’s selective focus, and serve as a visual example of how I remember. Through this examination of memory, I’m also exploring myself as a multiracial woman, my femininity, and my experience processing intense emotions such as grief and trauma. My work is both personal and universal, a representation of self that unfolds to tell a unique and personal story to each viewer. I want to discuss memory, how it defines the self, and how something so crucial to the makeup of our lives walks the line between reality and fiction.

artist’s website