We recently returned from a trip to Mystic, Connecticut, where we got to see the work of Kevin Sampson – an incredibly talented self-taught and community based artist living in Newark, New Jersey. His work is currently on display at the Mystic Seaport Museum as part of their artist residency program.
During the summer of 2018, Sampson stayed on a boat docked near the museum as he and the staff worked on preparing the exhibition. Community members and museum visitors were invited to learn about his work and process.
Sampson was born in 1954 in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He is the son of civil rights leader Stephen Sampson. This had a huge impact on him and most of his work is tied to social activism, including identity politics, war, and civil rights. Shortly after college, he began working as a police officer and later became the first African American sketch artist in the United States.
Like many of the artists featured on this blog, he creates art out of discarded objects, transforming them into ships or tributes and memorials to people in his life. He incorporates many non-traditional art supplies into his work, such as chicken bones, old bottles, and rope, creating magnificent assemblage sculptures.
We strongly believe that artists are much better at describing their own work, so here is a quote from Sampson which appeared on The New York Optimist.
“All of my different training, skill sets and life experience, is put on display when I create a sculpture, an installation, and or a painting. When I construct sculptures using found objects, I consider this to be the retrieval of materials that still hold both the memory and ultimately the power of the previous owner’s life and deeds. In my case art making is a healing mechanism for both me and my community. My work tends to take a critical view of social, political and cultural issues.”Kevin Sampson
To learn more about his work, please visit Cavin Morris Gallery’s website.