New York artist Samantha Meserati has a lot to say about this week’s cover, “Rufio,” which she painted using acrylics mixed with gloss gel.
She points out, “I learn every day that in order to have the possibility of winning, you have to play the game. Swing the bat, or in my case, stroke the brush. Starting a painting is like being 20 years old. You have no hindsight. You have no idea who you are yet. Just like in life, you see what you’re supposed to see, when you’re supposed to see it. If you seek it, you will find it. Every painting has a piece of my long journey of where I have been, where I am, and where I am going. All of my pains, my joys, my fears and my loves are infused in the work.”
What was the particular inspiration for this piece?
This painting is actually a rooster I photographed while on a medical mission in Haiti. In 2017, my team from Central Park Medical and I traveled to a small remote village called Belle Anse. We were originally traveling there to assist with general medical examinations, providing antibiotics, STI screenings, and prenatal vitamins. When we realized that this village was in need of so much more than medical help, we decided to start a nonprofit. We called it Central Park Angels.
When Hurricane Matthew powered through and destroyed every single resource of agriculture, including killing all of their livestock, we came up with a strategy of six basic needs for sustainable living. We started with rebuilding their chicken coops. There was one particular rooster that caught my eye. He was very beautiful and strong. You could definitely tell he was king of the coop. I knew that I was going to paint him. I couldn’t wait to get home and put him on canvas. With that appearance of royalty and power, how could I not? Now he will forever exist with bold color and strong brush strokes, just as I saw him that day.
This rooster looks like he’s floating, or swimming, in a world of color, is this a metaphor?
Rufio is an Ameraucana rooster. The female chickens lay blue eggs. I’ve never seen anything like it before. I thought it was magical and wanted to paint this rooster surrounded by lots of colors with a mystical touch, almost floating above all chickens like a king.
This painting started out as a plain white rooster and then something happened. Color took over and created itself. You could say it was a color explosion, which is more like my internal personality. I’ve learned over the years not to fight the inner pigment in me. So far, listening to that voice has led me into a very colorful direction.
Are birds a particular favorite of yours to depict?
I will definitely be painting more birds in my future. I don’t paint many animals, but when I do there’s always a story or a tremendous meaning behind it. For example, the March 8 cover I did for Dan’s Papers was of a blue cow representing many powerful feminine concepts such as fertility, nurturing, power, mother earth and new beginnings. The rooster symbolizes bravery, boldness, and virility as he defends his flock. The spirit of the rooster draws good luck, prosperity, and overall health to you, your situation, or projects. Both animals feed the world. I can identify with these yin and yang animals and it gave me a purpose to paint them.
What are some of your favorite things about winter on the East End?
This time of the year always inspires change. I can’t help but to be affected by the colors, the amber and oranges in the pumpkin patches, the smell of firewood burning in the air, and even the taste of apple cider and pumpkin pie. Not to mention all the festivals that are a haven for amazing art, fantastic food and spectacular live entertainment.
What do you think the significance of painting is for contemporary society?
Contemporary art provides an opportunity to reflect on contemporary society and the issues relevant to ourselves, and the world around us. Current events sometimes dictate art. With all that’s happening today, contemporary art could not be more significant than right now!
We live in a society where this is so much art—it’s in every direction that our eyes can see. Painting for a contemporary society needs to be significant. The principles of art have not changed. We as a people still paint what they did hundreds of years ago. We paint our feelings of love, hate, religion, politics and sex. We paint to tell stories.
The only thing that really changes is the medium. Artists have so may different ways to express themselves. With the invention of the computer everything has changed.
I paint so that the significance of this medium never dies. It helps to remind me and others of a simpler way of life. A simpler form of chaos, if you will. Society is constantly changing, but we have to remember who we are and where we came from. Remember that there’s a person behind the vision you love or hate. That thing that has made you feel was created by a human being. That’s significant.
What has been your most unusual commission to date?
Recently I was asked to paint a small painting for the well-known New York restaurant, Trattoria Dell’Arte, [which is] super famous for nose art. I was asked to paint a famous female Italian actress’s nose. I wanted someone iconic, yet a very strong role model. I chose Sophia Lauren. The painting now hangs on the famous nose wall. I have been told that Sophia’s nose is the first and only female nose on the wall. I feel very honored to have a piece of my art on this “wonder wall.” If anyone happens to venture into New York, smell no further and stop into this midtown restaurant to check it out in person.
If you could sit down to coffee with any artist from history, who would it be and what would you talk about?
There are so many artists’ brains that I would love to pick. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to watch Vincent van Gogh order a soy vanilla latte or have to ask for the WiFi password. I digress.
I would probably choose Leonardo da Vinci. I would like to tell him how much farther ahead he was of his time. He dabbled in so many things and wore so many hats. He was known as a scientist, a painter and an engineer. I might even try to talk him into doing a reality show. On a more serious note, he mixed all of those disciplines into one another. He mashed old with new and drew up things that people of his time could not fathom. I’ve always been drawn to da Vinci. As an artist with a background in science myself, I recently started a small vitamin company called Boo Blue. By painting my labels for the vitamins, I too try to combine art and science.
Where can our readers see more of your work?
I have a website, smeserati.com. My Instagram name is @samanthameserati and I have art exhibitions every few months in Manhattan called “Multiple Personalities,” located in the West Village.