Samara Johnson

In my work, I integrate two types of materials: those that are derived from animals without much manipulation and those that were manufactured and manipulated by humans. The animal products that I often incorporate are: porcupine quills, antler, fur, horse and human hair, and various animal bones. The manmade products that I use include, but are not limited to: sinew (waxed linen), acrylic polymers, leather, various glues, silicone, polyurethane stain, cheese cloth, handmade papers, acrylic and oil paint, and beads.
For many years, I helped my mother with crafting, deconstructing, drilling, feathering, detangling, and furring for her craft business. All the while, I was interacting with animals and the wild environment of rural Alaska. I create tension in my work using materials that illustrate both the warmth and comfort of seeing Alaskan crafts packaged into something stereotypically beautiful, such as a dream-catcher or a picturesque mountain scene and the raw discomfort of fleshy, dark entrail-like materials that rot like dark secrets inside of every human and behind every tree in the woods. By blurring the lines between what is manufactured and what has been directly rejected from an animal, I challenge the viewer to decipher what memories are real and which stay true to the original event.
Threads of memory, materials, and crafts are all closely linked, to the degree that they are at times indecipherable. The past is present. Each piece is a subversion of the original event that led to the creation of a memory. With this idea, I compile images that when placed together, they illicit the same sensory response that I have from recalling those memories.