Sam Shamard ( she/her )

Artist Statement

My altarpieces create a physical manifestation of my experience as a mixed Latina woman raised in American suburban culture. This series is made up of ceramic objects on wall-mounted altars made of wood panels adorned with wallpaper and paint. The surfaces utilize visual references and color schemes from 90s girls’ bedrooms and Mexican pop-culture. Ceramic bones and cacti mounted onto the altar forms are all made through molded ceramic processes, which for me hold a ritualistic resonance. The surfaces of the ceramic bones and cacti are glazed, painted, lustered, and gold leafed to reference a constellation of experiences in my mixed, Mexican American household. Through these works I centralize a need to hold on to parts of one’s histories, lineage, and traditions, but also to think critically about the impact those histories hold. For me this work is a process of looking at these ideas of my familial lineage, mestiza identity, my own body and how I was taught to view it in religious spaces, and the icons and religiosity so engrained in my familial experience and culture. In this work I use conventions and mechanisms of the religious, the icon, and kitsch to both elevate and critique these ideas and communities I am working through and trying to be a part of. 


Sam Shamard is a mixed Mexican American artist originally from Austin, Texas. She received her MFA at Clemson University, in Clemson, South Carolina, where she has received multiple awards, grants, and scholarships, including the Cecelia Voelker Award in Graduate Art History. Sam pursued her BFA in Art Education at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (UMHB), during which she also studied at Studio Arts College International in Florence, Italy. Before attending graduate school, Sam worked as a middle school art teacher on the Fort Hood Military Base in Central Texas. Sam was a 2023 Penland Winter Fellow, and her work has been exhibited widely, and most recently in shows at Mason and DAAP galleries in Cincinnati, Ohio, Artfields, in Lake City, South Carolina, and Benedicta Arts Center in Saint Joseph, Minnesota.