Samantha Corbett's art has been in more states than most people. Just this year she’s exhibited in California twice, Colorado three times, New Jersey, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas, New Mexico, Illinois, and Hawaii.
The printmaker carves out time to create in between shifts at the UMD bookstore, print shop, and print studio. Plus she’s carrying a course load heavy enough to graduate in a mere three-and-a-half years. “Lots of coffee,” is what she credits for her prolificness. “You just put on lipstick and keep going.”
But Samantha stirs something extraordinary into that java: just enough disappointment to accelerate her ambition.
While always artistic, Samantha wasn't a protégé in her hometown of Ely, Minn. There was a learning curve. "I came to college not really knowing what's what. I still thought that charcoal was used to grill. When the professor said, 'Get a bag of charcoal,' I was like, 'what?"
Once the logistics were nailed down, Samantha was launched, exhibiting for the first time as a sophomore. Her professor, Robert Repinski, introduces the idea of an exhibition record in his classes because students need it as professional artists. What surprised him was how much Samantha enjoyed the process. "After fulfilling the course work, she just kept going. That's great to see in a student-- the self-motivation she has is really incredible."
In addition to the motivation, Robert noticed something else about Samantha's mindset. It's more like an athlete's than an artist's, saying she's "jockeying for a position in grad school."
Similar to how athletes study their gameday reels to improve performance, Samantha saves each and every brush off in a special rejection folder, which she'll open as needed for a dose of motivation. "When I get tired and I don’t want to go to the studio, I always have that little reminder that’s like, ‘OK. Go do something."
She responds to group critiques and feedback from her professors the same way. Instead of dreading it, Samantha says she values the coaching. "Every once in a while you get a student that really understands the critique process," Robert says about Samantha. "They say, 'tell me what you think.' That's great, that's a real fertile environment for a student."
Samantha has started applying for grad schools, but that hasn't sidelined her from applying for shows. One gallery in Portland has rejected her work three times. She's still trying. Whether the result is another pin in her crowded map of accomplishments or another rejection letter, it will be put to good use. Samantha chooses to use both, the success and the failure, as a springboard into her end game. Because of this she remains undefeated.
See more of Samantha's work, here.
Story by Lori C. Melton, September 2015
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