Originally from Milwaukee, WI, Sam Jaffe is a multi-disciplinary artist currently living and working in Chicago, IL. Sam completed her BFA at The Rhode Island School of Design in 2005 where she majored in painting, but also studied printmaking and textiles. She spent her last year there working independently in Rome, Italy as a part of RISD’s European Honors Program. Sam received her MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Painting and Drawing program in 2009. She is represented by 65 Grand in Chicago and has additionally exhibited her work at such spaces as The Highland Park Art Center, Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, Zrobili Gallery, The Union League Club, The Hyde Park Art Center, and Peregrine Program. Sam teaches painting and drawing courses at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago.
About the Work
My recent work is a discussion of the relationship between automated mass-production and slow, painstaking processes that involve an individual’s hand. The work is almost completely made using synthetic, acrylic (petroleum) yarns, industrial grade insulation, petroleum based stuffing, artificial dyes, and other objects or byproducts created as a result of mass production. I then use these mundane, utilitarian materials to create one-of-a-kind, handmade objects full of lavish ornament and distinctiveness. This juxtaposition serves to create puzzling situations where acts of discreet, individual creativity and the toxic colors, textures, and mutated forms of pop culture eventually come to some sort of strange understanding. It makes one question what has been purchased and what has been handcrafted; that which was thought to be human in some way morphs into something horribly synthetic or artificial and vice versa. I’m trying to demonstrate that ornamentation is not frivolous, that it can still play an important role in visualizing the progress of culture even in a post-industrialized, post-modern world, and that, ultimately the hand-made can be redemptive, authentic, and humanizing.
As a female artist who comes from a line of women who worked in the New England textile industry, I’m particularly interested in ornament as a historically female and domestic endeavor. I employ techniques such as knitting, embroidery, sewing, and quilting as feminist signifiers that imbue the objects that I create with familiarity, improvisational spirit, uniqueness, surprise, and anthropomorphic character. I want the pieces to appear to communicate with the body in emotional or interactive ways – like things you would want to cuddle with, sit on, lick, wear, or that might somehow respond to touch. I feel that it is my duty as a female artist to keep these dying craft practices alive as we slowly lose them to more and more dehumanizing, mechanized, and commodity based processes.
You can view Sam’s pieces at Morton College. 3801 S. Central Avenue, Cicero, Illinois 60804. Building C First floor, across from the bookstore. This exhibition is free and open to the public.
Curated by Diana Gabriel