Sam Williams is the Director of the phenomenal new Cedar House Gallery, which puts her in the position to help grow and support the burgeoning Savannah visual arts scene. What really makes her curatorial work stand out, however, is that it stems from her experimental artistic process, which we discussed during this week’s episode of Art on the Air.
“I was that kid in preschool who was always doing everything art related while other kids were eating crayons and drinking glue," she quipped.
Although she’s dabbled in a number of different mediums, photography was ultimately what really grabbed her and refused to let go. “When I found photography in my sophomore year in high school, I realized I could do everything,” she relayed during our hour-long sit-down, “I started printing on wood, metal… I started creating paper out of leaves.”
But it was as part of a study abroad program at SCAD’s campus in Lacoste, France where she refined her technique. The experience was so inspiring that she went through all of her photographic supplies in the first few weeks of her stay — that became a problem when it was time to show her final project.
So Sam had to improvise.
“I had to get creative,” she recounted, “I was like ‘okay, what do I have?’ I have cotton-based papers. I have a bunch of brayers and rollers and pressing materials. And I had hand sanitizer. And that’s where I got the alcohol to remove the ink.”
So she pushed herself to use these bare-bones materials to create her artistic vision.
“I started basically printing images on [plexi-glass], which I had from my printmaking class,” she reflected, a gleam in her eyes, “I was up until probably five every morning just experimenting and experimenting. And then finally I was like ‘Eureka, I got it!’ I used the rubbing alcohol. I used the hand sanitizer. I was able to adhere it to the plexi long enough to hand press it into the paper.”
That didn’t mean that everything went perfect from there on out.
“Some worked. Some didn’t. Some were just these inky messes. And then when you got that really pretty one it was like, ‘That’s it!’”
A number of the “pretty ones” can be seen at Cedar House Gallery on the walls of her office, something that I’ll admit I’d completely overlooked because the labels read “Sam Cole.” That’s her artist handle, which she uses to distinguish her photography from her work as Gallery Director.
“My personal Instagram is Sam Cole Studios.” she explained, “It’s been quite a few different names throughout time. I’m finally, officially, Sam Cole.”
Williams or Cole, Sam is most definitely one to watch in the Savannah art scene.
One additional side note: Sam’s biggest fear is goat cheese. Yes: Goat cheese. Why? Listen to the entire interview embedded here to find out! This week’s episode also includes bonus Field Notes with Kristopher Monroe, Shaye Garrigan, and Lisa Rundstrom!
Tune in to “Art on the Air” every Wednesday from 3-4 p.m. on WRUU 107.5 FM in Savannah, and streaming worldwide at www.wruu.org. Next week’s guest on the show will be Angela Burson, whose exhibition “Peep Show” opens Friday, October 16th at Location Gallery.
Art off the Air is a digital-only column that is posted every week on dosavannah.com as a companion piece to the WRUU 107.5 FM show “Art on the Air.”
Rob Hessler is an artist, host of the radio show Art on the Air on WRUU 107.5 FM Savannah, and Executive Director of Bigger Pie, a Savannah-based arts advocacy organization.