M I X E D  B E A U T Y

Words Arielle Chambers

For so many, art serves as a form of liberation, an escape from reality, a freedom of expression.  For artist Samantha Wall, art is just that.  Now based in Portland, Oregon, Wall is an immigrant from Seoul, South Korea.  She moved to the United States at four years old.  Receiving her MFA from the Pacific Northwest College of Art enabled her to further her art career as she went on to be awarded the Joan Mitchell MFA Award in 2011: the year she graduated.  Upon acceptance, Wall was selected to showcase her artwork in Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art’s First Look III exhibition.   

Wall has a series of collections available for convenient viewing on her website, samanthawall.com.  “The women in my photographs are a catalyst for my drawings.  An exchange of emotions and ideas between the model and myself shapes the outcome of each photo shoot, producing unpredictable and idiosyncratic results,” Wall claims.  The woman is clearly a muse for this artist.  She places emphasis on multiracial women in order to depict her personal journey with multiraciality in Korea.  “I...[capture] the figure between expression and release.” She furthers the explanation of her artistry by stating that her technique “with graphite, charcoal or ink, I amplify and enhance [the photo’s] distinctive quality, revealing an affective identity woven from my own emotions and that of the model.”   

Capturing the features of multi-raciality, Wall stems away from hegemonous views of beauty and portrays what she perceives to be beautiful.  Her work is a reflective dimension of an alternative perception, which leaves the audience transfixed on the images.  Images available in her collection range from Albino women, to women with afros, to chinky-eye women.  The variety keeps the viewer wanting more.