Samantha’s upbringing was peppered with privilege, trauma and uncertainty – all of which are explored in her distinctive photographic pieces. Her tumultuous past also left her with scars and confusion over her identity as an artist and a person.
“I had the privilege of being gifted art lessons and a beautiful camera and lens, but I was also not encouraged to pursue art for a living. It was a weird paradox because I knew art made me happy but I was being told not to continue with it.”
“I used to make art for other people, paintings that could be in people’s homes. The colours matched and they looked lovely, but I wasn’t doing it for me. Photography has been just for me.”
Now a professional photographer, Samantha is happy to use her gifts for good – highlighting the plight of people with mental illness.
“When I was growing up, there were lots of nuances missing to conversations of mental illness. Now that I’m an adult, I want to shine a light on marginalised groups. I want to bring those conversations into the mainstream.”
Samantha has worked hard to dismantle damaging thought patterns she was exposed to as a child.
“When I was a teenager, I was beginning to have my own struggles with mental illness. I grew up in a conservative religious Immigrant family where there was the denial of mental illness being real. Basically it was, ‘if you’re mentally ill, you’re satanic’. I am still working to unlearn a lot of false ideologies that were projected onto me. I’d prefer to learn from what I don’t understand.”
While she still struggles to understand the particulars of her mental illness, Samantha is making steps towards a diagnosis.
“I was never allowed to get a diagnosis so I’m not sure what it is, but there’s definitely autism in my family, and I have dealt with depression and anxiety. I still need to do the work to get the exact help I need. It’s worth discussing how damaging it can be leaving problems undiagnosed in a family, and the impact that can have on future generations.”
|"Dimensions" by Samantha Marie on display at the 2021 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition.
Samantha’s grown and changed immensely since her teenage years and wants others to know it does get better.
“In terms of what’s happened to me in my childhood, I’ve come to accept a lot of things that have happened in the past. I was a very angry person, but now I now know it’s not my fault. I have a more mature mindset.”
These days, Samantha still lives with anxiety – a condition she manages predominantly through grounding.
“Grounding myself is so important – touching things, breathing deeply. My anxiety can feel like an out of body experience, I can be in a conversation and suddenly have an anxiety attack. I make sure to latch onto something they say and respond – that pulls me away from the anxiety attack.”
“Let’s just say the brain is very complicated.”