“Meet an Artist Monday” is an ongoing series of mini Q&A’s with some of L.A.’s most active and eclectic contemporary artists, introducing themselves to you in their own words. This week, it’s Samantha Fields, a painter whose practice focuses on the distortions inherent in our perceptions of realism, and whose sophisticated style proceeds with an affinity for the unruly.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
SAMANTHA FIELDS: In fourth grade, I opened a small gallery in my desk to sell hand-drawn stickers. I made enough money to buy doughnuts on the walk home for myself and my friends. If the teacher hadn't shut me down, maybe I would have become a dealer!
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
My work deals with disaster; ecological, personal and political. Lately, I have no shortage of material.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
I would be a national park ranger, it's my alternative-timeline dream job.
Did you go to art school? Why/why not?
I went to the Cleveland Institute of Art for my BFA and Cranbrook for my MFA. I went because I knew I had a lot to learn. But it was the community of peers that made it such an incredible place: In art school you are with your people. I met my husband, artist Andre Yi, at Cranbrook, and I have long-lasting relationships that started there that have enriched my life well beyond the art-making process.
Why do you live and work in L.A., and not elsewhere?
I came here to teach at CSU Northridge in 1998. Back then, the art scene here was so small that there was ample parking, DTLA was a ghost town after 5 p.m., the Grove didn't exist, and it was still very affordable. Artists were doing great projects like Michael Arata and Mark Dutcher's "One Night Stand" shows at the Farmer's Daughter Motel, and there was always something happening, making L.A. a great place to land after graduate school.
When was your first show?
My first group show post-grad school was at PØST when it was still on Seventh Place. Emma curated it, I was making these odd spider collage paintings about phobias. Later, I showed with Rhonda Saboff at DiRT, and I'd get the "artist discount" at L.A. Eyeworks thanks to Gai. Bonus!
When is/was your current/most recent/next show?
I'm currently in a group show called "Nature Worship" at Mash Gallery, curated by Andi Campognone.
What artist living or dead would you most like to show with?
I'd like to go back in time and hang with the Dada crowd, if they'd have me.
Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?
I listen to NPR all day so that I can know exactly how doomed we are at every moment. The Sunday Puzzle by Will Shortz is my only respite.
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"Nature Worship" is on view through Nov. 10 at Mash Gallery in downtown L.A.