Truth and Transience: Michelle Samour

Posted February 25, 2011 in Press Releases

This spring, visitors are invited to explore the natural world we live in through the eyes of mixed-media artist Michelle Samour in Truth and Transience, on view in the small gallery at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, March 26 – May 15, 2011.In Truth and Transience, Samour incorporates various media, such as handmade paper, painting and light boxes to create a unique installation that is part science, part imagination. Upon entering the gallery, viewers find themselves surrounded by small, colorful circles of vellum. These circles seem to float and cluster along the gallery walls, reminiscent of cells and their interior parts when viewed under a microscope. To make the paper and vellum used for the circles, Samour takes apart and finely cuts fibers from Abaca plants. She then stains these fibers with brightly colored pigments, used specifically for papermaking. After the pulp has been pressed and dried, it becomes the handmade paper surface Samour uses for her intricate paintings.

The shapes and imagery that Samour paints inside the circles have roots in scientific illustration as well as Eastern miniature painting. In addition to being a reference to the telescopic and microscopic eye, the circle is a symbol of the “all knowing eye,” as well as the physiological eye. These clusters of circular “cells” are not just a reference to a biological context but can be interpreted as a representation of groups of people, technology, data, or objects interacting.

Throughout her work, Samour expresses a strong interest in taxonomy, the practice and science of classification. She is most interested in “how we organize our thoughts and ideas, how we categorize, and how we create systems.” This method of organization is useful in determining the degree of relationships among organisms—their similarities, differences and evolutionary history. Taxonomy is primarily used in biology but also can be used for the organization of concepts, places, and inanimate objects, among other things.

While circular forms cover the walls, the center of the gallery is filled with light from Samour’s piece, Reflecting Pools: Beautiful Viruses. This work features translucent pulp drawings of viruses floating within an illuminated “reflecting pool.” Samour’s environment invites the contemplation of many of the issues surrounding the deadly array of viruses that are present in our contemporary world. Efforts to control their spread; the control of mass hysteria; the creation of vaccinations; and the political, social and economic factors that surround their development are some of the concerns that influenced the piece.

HCCC Curatorial Fellow, Anna Walker, commented: “In Truth and Transience, Michelle Samour has created a vibrant and colorful installation that explores the innate human passion to learn, investigate and understand the connections among people, places and the natural world around us.”

Samour lives and works in Massachusetts and is a faculty member at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She studied at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, and received her BFA at Tufts University in Medford, MA. Her work has been exhibited at Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA; Danforth Museum of Art, Framingham, MA; San Antonio Public Library, San Antonio, TX; Kohler Art Center, Sheboygan, WI; SOHO20 Gallery, New York City, NY; RISD Museum of Art, Providence, RI; American Craft Museum, New York City, NY; and the Museum of Modern Art, Strasbourg, France. She recently received a visual artist residency at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada, and was a participating artist in “The 2010 Pulp Painting Symposium” at the Southwest School of Art in San Antonio, Texas.

Exhibition Dates
March 26 – May 15, 2011
Related Events
Opening Reception: Friday, March 25, 5:30 – 8:00 PM
Artist Talk: Saturday, March 26, 11:00 AM

Mary Headrick (
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
713.529.4848 x 107