UCSB Artist Paints Her Autobiography


Jasmine Brown

One bold University of California Santa Barbara art student integrates art and autobiography in her upcoming exhibit, “Art that Helps: An Autobiography,” which is full of creative works that go beyond hues and abstraction to share emotionally touching stories.

Samantha McMullen, a third-year art and psychology double major, will be hosting an exhibit of her autobiographical artwork in Building 479 from April 30 to May 4. The art exhibit will feature paintings and sculptures that share her moving story of experiencing and dealing with trauma, such as living in fear of rape, or having a broken heart that leads others to heartbreak. Through her artwork, she hopes to reach those who have been silenced or victimized, and inspire them to break their silence.

“A lot of my work is autobiographical,” said McMullen. “By telling my stories, I hope to inspire others to share theirs and know that they are not alone.”

McMullen’s words play a large role in the making of her autobiographical art. The underlying goal beneath her art show is to show that those who have been victimized by inhumane acts need others to be supportive and encouraging in order for them to merely gain the strength they need to tell their story.

McMullen, who aspires to be an art therapist, used her life goals as the motivation for her exhibit. The artwork displayed can be seen as a form of action against injustice, as well as a therapeutic experience for those who have had enough of staying silent about their survivor status.

Visitors to the week-long art exhibit can expect to see a lot of paintings, to which McMullen has dedicated a significant portion of time during her years at UCSB.

“Most of my work is paintings I’ve been working on since 2009,” said McMullen. “[Those] usually take from 12 to 48 hours.”

Julie Calderon, a third-year art major, shared her feelings that the exhibit’s attendees will definitely be in for a surprise.

“A lot of her work is paintings, emphasized on portraits and sculptures,” said Calderon. “Although painting is her specialty, people can expect a lot.”

Although McMullen revealed that most of her pieces that will be displayed are paintings, there will be a 3-D sculpture that should also attract attention from viewers.
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“My mermaid sculpture took a whole quarter to complete,” said McMullen. “I built it from the inside out; I made her skeleton, intestines, skin, then physical features, like scales and eyes.”

As the opening date of the exhibit rapidly approaches, McMullen meditates on the one thing she wants the UCSB community to take away from her exhibit, after experiencing a part of the emotional journey that she has powerfully reclaimed through artistic reflection.

“Never take life for what it is, but speak up for change,” said McMullen. “I do not claim to be awe-inspiring, instead this is more a life goal I try to put into everything, and this art show is one presentation of it.”