Installation view of “Anne Samat: Weavings of Love,” University of Wyoming Art Museum, 2022. Photo: Wes Magyar

Love and Spirits: A Conversation with Anne Samat

Anne Samat creates brilliantly colorful totemic sculptures using humble everyday materials. Deeply informed by Malaysian culture, her work combines traditional Pua Kumbu weaving, which she studied at the Mara Institute of Technology in Malaysia, with familiar objects taken from modern life such as gardening and kitchen utensils, plastic ornaments, and hardware. The concept of love is central to her practice, as emphasized by the title of her recent University of Wyoming Art Museum exhibition “Weavings of Love.” Each sculpture is imbued with memories of and feelings for a friend or family member. When viewed together, the anthropomorphism of her abstracted forms becomes clear. Though individual and personal, Samat’s avatars can take on new identities for viewers, allowing us to get closer to each other and the true meanings of love.

Jan Garden Castro: You commemorated your brother, who died of Covid, along with other people who died in the pandemic, by putting their names on dog tags and weaving them into the works in your 2021 exhibition at Marc Straus Gallery. How did you find the names?
Anne Samat: I searched records on the Internet. When my baby brother was very sick, he told me to pursue my dreams—especially to live in New York. We were really close, and he knew that I wanted to stay after my 2019 residency in upstate New York. When he became ill, I returned to Kuala Lumpur and put my career second, but I made a promise to him to pursue it . . .

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