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Rising Stars: Meet Samantha Iaconi

Today we’d like to introduce you to Samantha Iaconi.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
The earliest memories I have of making work is with my cousins as an elementary school-aged child. Every Friday, our families would get together at home or at “The Moose” country club. We would bring our colored pencils, markers, even the fancy gel pens every 90s girl loved, and we would draw portraits of girls with bad proportions, wild makeup and crazy hair. I would hang the drawings up in my baby pink bedroom, saloon style, and spend hours staring at them, thinking of what I would do next Friday. My artistic journey hasn’t been a straight line though. In high school, I attended a technical high school where I majored in Culinary and spent four years learning culinary techniques in matching uniforms. During that time, I made drawings and paintings in my free time for pleasure. By 2012, Head Chef noticed my interest and offered me a mural opportunity in the in-school restaurant. I designed and led a mural team on my first large-scale mural and knew then that I was going to pursue the arts. I went on to obtain my Bachelor’s with a major in painting from The Maryland Institute College of Art in 2017. My time at MICA solidified my love of the arts and I have been pursuing my work since.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The road has been incredibly bumpy and I think that is exactly on course for my journey. There’s something more gratifying to me about reaching a goal of mine after working my ass off. I’ve always taken pride in hard work and with hard work also comes struggle because you don’t start as a pro in anything. Everything is a learning experience and working through the rough patches makes me feel powerful. I’ve been denied countless times by exhibitions, residencies, and curatorial proposals. It was easy to think I wasn’t ready or “worthy” but rising above those internal struggles and finally getting the juried selection or the curatorial opportunity made the hard work worth it. Also, being a young artist and being broke is real. It’s hard to make more work when you don’t have supplies or the time because you’re working to pay your bills. Finding the balance between making work and working has been a challenge, but the urge to make work brings me to the studio even after full-time shifts.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I’m a painter. I’ve loved painting since I first began taking brush to paint. I love to get lost in plein air painting, “stretching” my eyes with no expectation of perfection. I also love to get lost in my studio work, in which I take content inspiration from working-class experiences, current social events and American culture to create surreal storytelling images. I enjoy creating symbolic imagery with and “I SPY” attention to detail. I love a good pun and playing with interpretations of images.

Can you share something surprising about yourself?
Aside from my Culinary major in high school, I ‘ve been in the home appliance industry as my day job for about 9 years now. I’ve done everything from sales representative to appliance technician. I can paint you a picture, bake you a croissant and fix your washing machine.

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