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Howdy, this is Abby Golden!

Updated: Jun 13, 2022

Where are you from? What are you doing in Amsterdam?

I am from Florida, United States and am a rising senior at Smith College in Massachusetts. Along with my degrees in fine arts and English, I am receiving a “concentration” in community engagement and social change. This concentration is a mix of course work (for myself, these courses have included an arts lens to social justice/community engagement) and experiential experiences. So, for my experiential experiences, I decided to come to Amsterdam to intern at SAMA! While I’ve been involved with arts projects from my small college town to the cities of Philadelphia and Tampa, I am excited to learn about socially engaged artworks in such an international and quickly evolving city.

Can you tell something about the place where you come from?

Growing up in the city of Clearwater, I was always fifteen minutes away from the Gulf of Mexico, so beaches have been a huge part of my life. I enjoy paddleboarding, swimming, and hopping over to the other coast to surf.

As for the arts, St. Petersburg and Tampa (cities near me) host most of the arts events. Both have great museums, and are beginning to branch out into commissioning mural projects. The street art scene in St. Pete is vibrant, but I have noticed that the street art and murals alike are not in dialogue with community members. This is an issue I want to address in my community and learn ways to articulate the importance of art being entwined with a community rather than simply on a community. There is also the issue of gentrification and murals playing a role in that happening in Tampa/St. Pete which can be a whole entire other blog!

What is your favorite activity/ the things you like to do during your free time?

I love doing anything in the water, art making, writing, reading novels, exploring new places and trying things that scare me! (Most recently rock climbing!) In my free time here in the Netherlands, I am excited to travel, hike along the beaches, visit art museums, go to yoga classes, and draw outside.

What fascinates you the most about the city? About Nieuw-West?

I think I am more so interested in the complicated history of Nieuw-West, and exploring through the lens of street art what the narrative the city of Amsterdam has placed on the people here and what the true narrative of the people who populate Nieuw-West. Also, the street art here is different from what I see in the U.S.-- it is much more edgy here!

What is your relationship to street art? Art in general?

Here’s a fun fact about me: Back in high school, I made stickers to stick around town, before learning that the BIC marker on sticker paper does not hold up in the natural elements. So I’ve often wanted to make street art, just have yet to figure out the best medium!

My aunt often says that “public art is a city’s autobiography” and it is a phrase I carry with me when I learn about new places. It is the story that locals tell themselves as well as what they want the world to know. Additionally, I see art as being a way for community members to collaborate and get to know each other through a project. I think there is something incredible when people with different backgrounds and across ages and skill levels gather around to paint (or do a shared activity.) The conversations that “flow” from them are beautiful. For myself, I find the making of art to be healing, and know this to be true amongst practicing and non practicing artists. I want to be a person who can create projects/pieces that invite participation that foster these welcoming spaces for folks.

Recently, I painted some signage for a cooperative, immigrant led farm near my college. I loved going back and forth on the design with the worker-owners and inviting members of my college to join the painting process! Here is a picture of me doing the finishing touches on a collaborative sign, in which I invited community members to help paint in the design. This board will both act as signage for the farm to receive business/volunteers and as a way of place making for the workers and volunteers at the farm.

In your opinion what’s the most interesting aspect of Street Art?

I think it is sometimes not so much what the art depicts, but to contextualize the pieces. Such as, why did the artist paint it there, who was the artist, and what was happening in that community?

What are your responsibilities at SAMA?

I will primarily be assisting with marketing, blog posts, and hosting and promoting SAMA’s current gallery exhibition “Street Art and Democracy.” Additionally, I will be tagging along to community events and lending a hand with any painting projects if need be. I am here also to offer any expertise/advice on community engagement that I have learned from my college’s program, but am much more eager to learn about SAMA’s own methods.

Do you have a favorite artist in the SAMA collection?

I admire Stinkfish’s works, for his style, methodology of working from photography he takes around the world, and making pieces relevant to the local community he paints in. My favorite piece of his in the SAMA collection is the mural "Fatherhood."

What interests you most in the concept of SAMA?

I really admire SAMA’s efforts to connect with locals in Nieuw-West, and increasingly in other parts of the city with workshops. I like that these workshops give locals the opportunity to express themselves and practice with a potentially new, artistic medium, whether it be spray paint or poetry.

Which artwork of the SAMA collection do you like the most?

I love the piece "One to Tulips," by E.Lee. When I saw this on a tour with SAMA a few summers ago, I fell in love with the story behind it and how simplistically rendered the piece is for such a complicated narrative it "bloomed" from. The piece reflects on how tulips were brought from Turkey and then suddenly became the flower of the Netherlands when they are not native to here. Now, the tulips are painted in a Turkish community in Amsterdam. Here is a picture I took of it when I went on a tour with SAMA.

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