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SPOOKY ACTION AT A DISTANCE, 21 OCTOBER - 14 NOVEMBER 2015
Sam Mitchell's new exhibition Spooky action at a distance draws on her interest and fascination with astronomy and science fiction. Her title comes from Albert Einstein who used the phrase in 1935 to describe the way objects and particles could be moved, changed or affected without being physically touched.
While this could be seen as a metaphor for how art operates, Sam is also interested in ideas in this arena that have traditionally seen as moonshots--a term coined to describe futuristic ideas. Google described moonshots as living in the gray area between audacious technology and science fiction. An elevator to the stars, which is the title of one of two big new circular paintings in the exhibition, is one such idea. First proposed in 1895, as a tower to reach from earth into space, a Japanese company is now proposing to realise the concept by 2050. The second large circular painting is titled Black matter, referencing material that cannot be directly observed. The other works in the show are titled after groundbreaking astronomers, scientists and achievers.
As with all Sam's work, the paintings, in her distinctive signature style, are not literal portraits but rather assemblages of found faces and imagery that operate to suggest a range of ideas about how popular culture imprints on the psyche. Stylistically, the works reference and honour the great American comic book artist, Jack Kirby, creator of the superhero figure Captain America.
Sam completed a Master in Fine Arts at the Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, in 2000. Since then she has exhibited nationally and internationally. Her work is in public collections in New Zealand and in private collections in New Zealand, the US, the UK and Egypt. In 2010 Sam was the Paramount winner of the Wallace Trust Art Award. In 2014 she won the William Hodges Southland Trust Residency in Invercargill and she is currently the Sarjeant Gallery's Tylee Cottage artist in residence.