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Samuel Holmes

Watch an interview with curators Trisha Kyner and Osvaldo Mesa about the art of Samuel Holmes.


My works are born out of an iconography in respect for the blacksmithing traditions associated with the African diaspora. The language of the wrought iron gate/fence was during a creolization of the captive craftsman caught in the slave trade and West African bronze workers. They created images long associated with the religious practices found throughout the African harbors of export. You can find these Africanisms along the Middle Passage, from places like Brazil, throughout the Caribbean, up to the American south, and even the Bronx and Brooklyn. My marks reflect that history while exploring my own personal narratives. 


Samuel Christian Holmes BFA, MFA (The Maryland Institute College of Art). Sam’s BFA was earned in printmaking and was completed in 1984, after which he apprenticed under Master Printmaker Bob Blackburn at the prestigious Printmakers Workshop in NYC. During his time with Bob Blackburn, Sam also had the opportunity to study with Paul Wong at Due Donne paper making studio and print for artista Al Loving, Romare Bearden, William T. Williams, Ellsworth Aubrey, Lucio Pozi, and many others. This was a pivotal point in his life and sealed his commitment to a life in the arts. His Masters degree was earned in 1995 in MICA’s Mount Royal School under mentors Leslie King Hammond, abstractionist Babe Shapiro, painter Sam Gilliam, and Sal Scarpita. He mostly developed sculptural works during his time in grad school and upon graduation received the Walters Traveling Scholarship in which he studied in the Afrocentric rich city of Salvador de Bahia.


As an educator, Sam has spent the majority of his career combining his love for making art with teaching art. After a couple years at The Community College of Baltimore County, he became the coordinator for digital studies at MICA. Then on to the historic Howard University in Washington, D.C. where he ran the Digital Arts program. Health issues made it favorable to return to Baltimore and slip time between Morgan State University and MICA’s graduate program in Community Arts, where he is the current Artist in Residence.


Recent work In the Garden, Woman and Man, Robert Baker Park Baltimore, Maryland tells the tale of the union of Woman and Man in a Garden of Eden. Their spiritual presence is represented by a mermaid adorned with basket boat above her head in the case of the woman and a crowned king for man. She is regal, busted, and reaching up. He is strong and erect, with a chest filled with the four corners of the universe connecting him to the universal father. In between them is a centered sacred heart surrounded by a starburst shield. She is flanked by her guardian female spirit often represented by the African Saint Yemenja. The male is flanked by a shield with a fedora center.

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