Art Culture Installations


In my first sculpture ever, I am stepping as far away as possible from computerized and coding based design. I aim to prototype and form a foundation for an ongoing, joyful sculpture practice.


Sammy Nelson


Despina Papadopoulos


(s)Kin is a sculptural exploration and an engagement with materials that are new to me. With s(Kin) I am mining hand making traditions and Southern Scrap Art, to fashion my expression out of "raw" material. The piece literally comes alive by introducing SCOBY, the Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast commonly used to grow Kombucha, which for my purposes forms a very skin-like leathery element. This in turns brings in notions of temporality as this living material will change over time and depending on its surrounding conditions. A pleasant surprise was that the interaction of the wet SCOBY also starts to rust and integrate with the metal, producing color changes in both materials. I made the piece with play in mind, a sharp contrast to steel at the core of the piece. Manufactured with industrial function in mind, steel is produced without any interest in pleasure or expression; it is rigid and heavy and cold. Playing with that was a great source of joy, from the simple joys of using angle grinders and welding to seeing that I actually sculpted something from this intimidating material. Persevering through hangups along the way are direct reflections of my own ability to keep playing, my wellbeing becoming one with the sculpture in its formation. The piece is accompanied by my statement "Queer People From The South Are The Best People I've Ever Met". This is my manifesto. I am a transplant from Texas, and have spent my 8 years in New York surrounding myself with other queer folks, organizers, and those interested in humanity and joy. While "The South" is a broad place with varying social and political landscapes and traditions, I have found myself unable to pinpoint this statement any further than this. It is simply the truth for me. The kinship and family formed through bonds in the rural south, regardless of orientation, are tenets of human survival that I find fundamental to a healthy and joyous community. Queer people from these landscapes have an added reality that the social architecture of the place we are from is hostile. Building tradition and safety from the ground up is hard enough, doing so joyfully is a herculean task. The thinking behind my piece is in sheer admiration of the love I have seen imagined and then realized by Queer folks in an environment formed, like the steel, with no interest in their pleasure.


My research in these foundational stages of this work was primarily looking at the work of other artists and reading what I could find on JSTOR in the vein of Southern Queer Existence. Primary inspirational works for this piece were "Queer Rednecks" : Padgett Powell's Manly South by John Moran Manifesto for Queer South Politics by Pippa Holloway Fray chapter 1, Queer Handmaking by Julia Bryan-Wilson (Thank you very much to my thesis advisor, Despina Papadopoulos, for this recommendation it fostered the majority of my thinking in the final stages of this project) Artists I looked to are Joe Minter Eva Hesse Simone Leigh Kara Walker Rachel Harrison Chiharu Shiota Nam June Paik My Friend, metal worker Imogen Brent I was provided wonderful inquiries and recommendations by MeeNa Ko, whose best question was to the

Technical Details

The piece is formed using primarily three materials, Steel, Yarn/Rope, and SCOBY. The legs are formed with 1.5" Raw Squared Steel Bars, the "Body" is scrap steel found on the streets of Ridgewood, Queens and donated by my classmate and friend, Sophia Baker's, father who does roofing work. Ideally, as the practice develops I would be able to harvest my scrap materials from my family's farm. The rope forming "clotheslines" is Jute Rope, the crochet and knitwork are yarn I unraveled from a runner rug I found on the street. The SCOBY was grown in underbed shoe storage in my apartment for 5 weeks, fighting off mold until our very hot weekend when the SCOBY was supercharged to eat the Mold providing a fairly robust organism for my piece.