Today, gazing at a Samerjan original, it's hard to believe Michelle Samerjan was born in 1960 in Indianapolis. A long way from Myanmar, Shenshi, Changde, etc. And centuries away from the Ming Dynasty.
Her early years were influenced by her mother, who herself was an artist, and believed that a strong art and music education was not only necessary but essential to personal and spiritual growth. Her father worked for one of the pre-eminent suppliers of fabrics to the garment industry. His job required traveling and sourcing fabrics from around the world. During Michelle's teenage years, she was constantly exposed to fabrics and textile designs from different cultures and materials. In her late teenage years, she began to realize that the fabrics and antiquities her father brought home from Asia had a far greater impact both aesthetically and spiritually than materials from any other part of the world.
While a career in art would have been a logical transition from teenage life, Michelle found herself immersed in the business of fabrics. While interesting, it didn't challenge her, nor did it stir her creative energy. What began to appeal to her was control of space, and to that end, she began matching companies with interior space and design environments. This enabled control of 3-dimensional design and the beginning of integrating textures and colors to convey attitudes and interior landscapes that could convey emotion.
But it wasn't until a personal tragedy intervened that she went back to art as a way to express emotion without pleasing anyone but herself. What she quickly discovered is, while she enjoyed the process of painting, the spiritual calmness she had experienced from Asian textiles and antiquities also began to appear in her art.
"The painting of beautiful things truly began an internal therapy of healing, but I found that with integrating fabrics and antiquities into each painting, it brought a spiritual element which bridged the centuries. Whether it was a lucky 16th-century Chinese charm or 18th-century festival garment from India, the composition of my work with other long-forgotten artisans seemed to make a whole that transcended both time and space with texture. Even when I paint these valued antiquities from my collection, there is an energy derived from each piece. And it's that energy I hope the viewer can feel and take with them.
"With time, I have established a network of dealers and collectors who prowl much of Asia and the sub-continent looking for fabrics, charms, etc., to incorporate into each work of art. Each piece seems to come with a story or history that gives it a unique personality. For me, it's waiting to find the landscape in which that piece or textile can be used, and then create the environment to bring it back to life. For me, each piece is truly that textural landscape that crosses cultural, dimensional, and textural boundaries. It is creating a 3-dimensional view that everyone can interpret and enjoy."
Today, Michelle's original works can be found in fine art galleries and among collectors worldwide. Truly, a case of art crossing boundaries and finding a common voice.