Michelle Samour is a multi-media artist whose work explores the intersections between science, technology, and the natural world and the socio-political repercussions of redefining borders and boundaries. Samour has been a Scholar-in-Residence at the Tufts European Center in Talloires, France; an Artist-in-Residence at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Deer Island ME; the Banff Centre, Canada; and P.R.I.N.T. Press in Denton TX. Samour’s exhibitions include the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum (Lincoln MA); the Museum of Modern Art in Strasbourg, France; the Kohler Art Center (Sheboygan WI); the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft; the Racine Art Museum (Racine WI); and the Fitchburg Art Museum (Fitchburg MA). Samour has received grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a Society of Arts and Crafts New England Artist Award, and grants from the Cushman Family Fund, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Daynard Fund to study historic papermaking in France and Japan. Samour’s work has been featured in SurfaceDesign, FiberArts and Hand Papermaking magazines, and is included in public and private collections including the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, International Paper Company, and the Meditech Corporation.
Samour resides in Boston and is a Professor of the Practice at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) at Tufts University.
Eyes of God
In the 21st century, advances in science and technology are challenging our religious beliefs and our faith more than ever. Stem cell research and genetic engineering enable us and/or have the potential to clone, pre-determine gender, correct birth defects, develop new vaccines, regenerate nerves, and reverse debilitating disease. Add to this the reoccurring debate about the origins of man: evolution versus intelligent design and creationism. Where do science and our religious and faith-based beliefs intersect? Charles Darwin, the British naturalist who became famous for his theories of evolution and natural selection, was a deeply religious man. Was he an anomaly or an example of how science and faith can co-exist? In this series, images drawn from biology float on “eyes,” metaphors for the “Eye of God,” which has been used for thousands of years as a potent symbol in both our spiritual and lay worlds.
Sync: Early Spider-orchids
Early spider-orchids (Ophrys sphegodes) are dependent on bees to pollinate them. Emitting a perfume like the scent of the female bee, the orchids attract male bees, who try to copulate with them. The males move from orchid to orchid, pollinating them.
As the climate warms, the females are coming out of hibernation before the orchids flower. The male bees are mating with the female bees and not interacting with the orchids. The relationship is “out of sync.”
Orchids have long been regarded as sensual and sexual plants. Sync: Early Spider Orchids addresses the sensual and sexual relationship between the bee and the orchid flower, which is imagined to result in hybrids of the two. The overall appearance echos late 19th-century educational charts of natural objects against a black background, which were designed to be seen from the back of the classroom. The reverse painting on glass (with reflective foil) is a nod both to the popular Victorian decorative art of tinsel painting, and to the backlit digital devices of today, which have replaced classroom charts.