I am a queer and trans feminist artist and explore issues of embodiment, trauma recovery, and social justice through a variety of methods: drawing, painting, mixed media, assemblage, performance sculpture, and collage. As an artist, I sometimes have a vision or intention for creation; however, the embodied process of creating is the central focus of my artistic process. My work responds to the harmful effects of the Cartesian split–severing the mind from the body–and reflects the lived experience within the context of culture, history, and place . I assert that the body holds wisdom and that a core part of the healing creative arts is to nurture the bridge between the body and mind.
As a queer, trans feminist artist, I engage with the concept of belonging and identity-seeking; interconnectedness with others and nature; resistance to systemic oppression and resiliency of multiply marginalized people. Thus, my work lies at the intersection of feminist/queer/transgender embodiment, mindfulness, and somatic praxis. The texture, color, and materials chosen for each piece often represent the sensory-emotional experience visually represented in multimedia work.
I make a conscious effort to explore and engage with what emerges from the bodymind before, during, and after the process of creation. My art-making calls the body into the creative process and constitutes a central part of my personal artistic practice. I find that simply being curious about the body in the present moment without attempting to alter anything offers me a lot of wisdom.
However, not all people feel at home in their current bodies or their bodies have never fully "belonged" to them. Thus, much of my work revolves around reclaiming the body from harm and subjugation. My interest in womanist self-recovery in prior research encourages me to contextualize self recovery against the social landscape of historical and systemic oppression, particularly for disabled, queer/trans and Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC).
The body can offer information about where and how trauma is stored and where we are feeling “stuck” but we may have experienced intentional suppression of these wisdoms. In western colonial contexts, we are taught that the center of the self and our awareness only lies in the head/mind and that all other sources of knowledge are irrational or inferior. As a former academic, the rational/academic patriarchally-assigned headspace was a safe haven for me. Personally, that means that I am sometimes out of touch with my body’s needs and have had to relearn skills that were systematically suppressed. To survive and cope, marginalized people may learn to repress bodily intelligence and disregard its need for rest, food, medicine, healing sound, quiet, movement, connection, or relationship. My art is an attempt to listen to the body and tune into its shape, form, and the space it takes up and listen deeply to the body's needs. Bringing the body into focus allows me to sit with the complexity of who I am, locate acceptance and recognize the strength of survival. As a prospective therapist, understanding the ways that bodies have been harmed, controlled, stolen, and rendered invisible enables me to approach the therapeutic arts with a conscious and intentional social justice lens on somatic practices.
While I find each medium and technique useful and engaging, I am particularly drawn to accessible forms of expression such as trash art, recycled paper collage, pen and ink over watercolor, and other multi-media pieces. I enjoy the flexibility to respond to the complex layers of feeling that emerge during the process of creation and find that multimedia pieces work well for me. With this approach, I can pivot from one medium to the next fluidly, following where my bodymind “wants to go” in terms of expression in lieu of remaining within the bounds of style, technique, and medium. I prepare for this type of work by exploring, touching, and feeling a variety of materials: scraps of paper, old magazines, textile samples, cloth scraps, a variety of acrylic paints, pastels, pencils, glues and anything else that might cultivate the creative spark and then following that spark of creativity regardless of medium.
I draw from ideas about “queer failure”  to describe my artistic range precisely because some of my favorite mediums/genres/methods of art-making are often not recognized as “Art” proper; however, they give insight into how I understand and position myself as a queer and trans feminist artist and aspiring art therapist. I find that people often worry that they have to be “good at art” in order to benefit from engaging in creative activities. The belief that art belongs only to “respectable” or “talented” artists suggests that art belongs to a specific demographic of highly trained, educated individuals and denies people access to healing potentiality of creation. While trained and educated artists are still artists, I challenge the belief that art should be reserved for a select few elite as these concepts are imbued with raced and classed meaning. Furthermore, I am not formally trained in studio art. Due to systemic underrepresentation, queer and trans people often have to shape-shift from one disciplinary realm to another. We make do with the opportunities available to us and use it strategically to gain access and create change where we would otherwise have experienced exclusion. My art invokes this hirstory, rooted in healing modalities that have always been utilized by marginalized people to survive and thrive.
Finally, queer and trans people are often regarded as "societal failures" and may experience difficulites with internalized homo/bi/transphobia. Modes of art-making that reflect trans and queer peoples' lives may lie at the outskirts of the art therapy world, refusing the pathologization of cisgender narratives on our gender creativities. Non-traditional visual and expressive arts is often well suited for these queer practices.
This artist's statement is the intellectual property of Sam R. Schmitt. Please do not borrow or reproduce without author's consent.  - Adapted from AnaLouise Keating's Teaching Transformation: Transcultural Classroom Dialogues. Palgrave Macmillian: 2007. Print  - Concept originally described by Jack Halberstam in The Queer Art of Failure. Duke University Press: 2011. Print.  - The concept of the "shape-shifter" / "la naguala" is adapted from Queer Chicanx theoriest Gloria E. Anzaldúa and used to describe the necessary border crossings of subjugated bodies; their ability to be politically/socially fluid without losing cultural subjectivity; and the invitation to join inner works with public acts. See Anzaldúa's original discussion in, "now let us shift...the path of conocimiento...inner works, public acts." This Bridge We Call Home: Radical Visions for Transformation. (eds.) Gloria E. Anzaldúa and AnaLouise Keating. 2002. 540-578. Print.
Fave Mediums, Genres, and other Art-Adjacent Interests
Sam enjoys tinkering with bold patterns, acrylic paints, textiles, upcycled paper arts, cut-n-paste collage, lost-and-found junk, watercolors, and whatever else sparks their creativity. Common themes in Sam's art include: trauma and healing, somatics and gendered embodiment, chronic illness, queerness, trans identity, queer ecologies/queer-as-nature, and activist art.
Self Care // Self Affirmation
This self affirmation series uses multiple methods: collage, watercolor, and cut-n-paste upcycled images from old books, magazines, and newspapers.
"All Are One" : A Series on IFS and Trauma
This short series is focused on the the artists' personal experiences of family of origin trauma, attachment injury, and healing through internal family systems therapy framework. Color/absence of color, movement, shape, and expression relay the artist's somatic experiences--disorganized feeling/thought, mind/body disconnect, management of distress, and coping methods. [Genres: watercolor, pen and ink, collage]
Assemblage // Sculpture // Sculpture-Adjacent
Sam enjoys creating sculptures/mixed media images and tinkering with bold patterns, repurposed textiles, lost-and-found junk, and whatever else interests them. Common themes in Sam's art include: trauma and healing, gendered embodiment, chronic illness, queerness, trans identity formation, and art-as-activism.
"Y2Queer" Assemblage on clear acrylic face mask 6.5x4.5x3.5 in
“Mariae Virginis Suffocationis” Assemblage on clear acrylic face mask 6.5x4.5x3.5 in
"Like Glass // Training Bra" (2014) Two assemblage panels on stretched canvas. 11 x 14 in Left - acrylic paint on canvas, nylon ace bandage, glass, aluminum keys, orange, blue and white rhinestones on artists' used binder. Right - acrylic paint on canvas, alumnimum alloy locks, faux orange and yellow flowers, aluminum alloy safety pins on artist's used navy blue sports bra.
Other fun Projects
Collage cat tarot cards; upcycled notebooks; feminist and queer buttons made from upcycled books and magazine scraps; hoop embroidery on flour sack textiles; and hand emboidered catnip toys.