Samantha Eckert was born in Glen Cove, NY and raised in Brownsville, VT. Her imagination and artist voice are inspired by childhood days spent roaming the pastoral Vermont landscape. Eckert earned her MFA in Visual Art in 2015 from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier, VT. Additionally, she holds a Bachelor’s degree from Vermont College of Norwich University in Montpelier, VT, and a Certification in Museum Studies from The Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM. She received a grant to attend Anderson Ranch Art Center in Snowmass, CO, attended residencies at the Vermont Studio Center, in Johnson, VT, and was an artist in residence at The Studios at MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA.
I regularly return to building sculpture with scorched popsicle sticks. The work references architecture, systems, or skeletal forms. The work teeters somewhere between the real and the abstract, occupying space between memory and shadow and between a history that is both personal and global.
Thousands of popsicle sticks, first scorched with a propane torch and then tediously glued together, one stick at a time, hour upon hour, compulsive labor exploited. The popsicle stick is evocative of childhood, yet the scorched transformation robs its innocence. The towers cast shadows upon the physical site and audience adding an additional layer, weaving-in impermanence and temporality. In my mind an individual tower suggests a destroyed building, when the work is gathered and enhanced by lighting their shadows complete a city in ruins. Their lace-like structure is similar to a veil which reveals- leaving one vulnerable and exposed, and at the same time conceals- as a sort of refuge. An individual tower may also be read as figurative and skeletal, and then may represent an ancestor, a refugee, a migrant. The fragility of the work is unsettling; the towers appear as if they will topple at any moment, yet they are surprisingly strong and resilient. The duality is fundamental to the intention.
My work continues to be inspired by work made by my late Italian/Middle Eastern mother and grandmother. Their handwork produced crocheted tablecloths and bedspreads, knitted sweaters and blankets. These objects they’ve created remain long after they've departed, their imaginations are embedded into the fibers. Their works are treasures which have become to me heirloom, artifact, relic. Like theirs, my hands also sew, paint, knit, and build structures. Hand work driven by muscle memory, their need to make passed on to mine.