Painter: Samantha Rueter

1. Name:

My name is Samantha Rueter.

2. Where are you from? Where do you live now?

I grew up just north of New York city in the Hudson Valley. A little town called Pine Bush. I currently live in Charleston, SC. I relocated here about 3 years ago now.

3. Profession?

I am a full time painter and artist. I actually received a dual degree in both education and fine arts. I was a teacher for about four years before relocating to Charleston and making the clean break to pursue my painting career in a serious manner. 

4. What inspires your work?

Women. Everything about them. I used to be someone who shied away from understanding and embracing feminine power. My work is an expression of my own personal journey to heal and embrace the power that comes along with being a woman in today's society. 

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5. What does the color blue mean to you?

A feeling of home.

6. What are some challenges you face in this field? How do you cope?

There are many daily challenges you face as an entrepreneur, as well as an emerging female artist. When I was first starting out, I found that certain clients, galleries or corporations felt they could take advantage of me due to my young age and sex. I learned very quickly to stand up for myself, my work and my business; and sometimes that means losing out on contracts to hold someone accountable. Respect is the most valuable form of payment. I'm grateful to those who have invested in both me as a person, as well as my work. 

7. When did you realize you wanted to become an artist?

That's a difficult moment to pinpoint. I have always been an "art room kid", ever since elementary school. Art was constant in my life and was something I always gravitated towards. My teachers and family were always very encouraging; entering me into competitions and special class programs at a young age. Even through the "difficult" years as a teen, the creative process was always my safe haven. When it came time to choose a major in college, it felt only natural to pursue a career in the creative arts. My parents encouraged me to "be smart" about my future-- one where education could be my consistent paycheck. Even through art school; learning from professionals and being exposed to many mediums-- I never had a plan to be a full time artist. Teaching was the only thing that was safe and "made sense". It was only until a few years after art school that I realized I could really pursue a career as an artist and make it work. 

8. Who is your favorite artist? Why?

It's difficult to narrow down to just one! Mary Cassatt, Henri Matisse, and Paul Cezanne played a very influential role in shaping my love for the figure in different ways. I remember standing in front of each of their pieces ( "Mother and Child", "Blue Nude", and "The Bathers") completely blown away. Some of my favorite current artists are Jenny Saville, Yayoi Kusama, Marina Abramovic, Zoe Buckman, and Spencer Tunick. 

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9. What is one thing you never leave your home without?

Things I always have in my purse: my phone, my daily planner/gratitude journal, a teeny sketchbook & pen, and a book. (My bag is big, if you couldn't tell haha) If I can, I love to bring my pup, Luna girl. 

10. What is the one message you want viewers to take away from your artwork?

As most artists do, I hope that each viewer pulls away with a different narrative depending on their own life story and experiences. Using live models, I allow each woman to choose a pose that is comfortable and significant to her. This creates more of a story than we tend to give credit for. Each woman is symbolic of her own journey, thoughts, emotions, and power. Each pose may signify a diverse reaction of emotions, based on what the viewer themselves is going through. Truthfully, I began painting figures again once I dove head first into my own journey; one where I've been working to heal and accept my own feminine energy. My work focuses on "taking back" the depiction of the nude form as a woman. Being more than just a muse. But it also connects on a very personal level; one where I'm taking back my own life. Hopefully viewers can connect to that in some way. 

11. Who are some important women in your life?

I am fortunate to have a very strong, inspiring and genuine group of women in my life. Luckily, they are women I have met through different aspects and time periods of my life; and it makes for a diverse group. I noticed, as many women do, that as time passed in my life I had developed a "fear" of women. It became easier for me to believe  that all women are "mean girls" or "conniving", and I had a difficult time creating a new community when relocating 800 miles from home. During this self-journey, I've completely reshaped my thoughts and love for female relationships. The empowered women I surround myself with today set an example for me. They encourage self expression, self love, and compassion. We challenge one another and hold space for one another. Each of them is represented within my work. The strong, passionate mom who I became best friends with while teaching her children at school. The woman who has been there from elementary school and has grown with me through the years. The fearless woman who serves our country and is currently overseas. The artist who lives her most authentic life and encourages me to do the same. The grounded yoga teacher who works day in and day out to radiate light and love to everyone around her. The sister who supports and loves me, even when I'm the least perfect version of myself. A female community has become the corner stone to both my life and career. We're all also a diverse group of ages, which is something I truly appreciate. Endless love to each of the women in my life xxx

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12. What are some of your biggest accomplishments?

Even though it's outside of my current career; teaching young children has definitely been a true highlight of my life. Watching them blossom and hearing them read their first words in excitement have honestly been some of the most rewarding moments. In terms of my art career, creating a business from the ground up is truly something I take pride in. Being a featured artist for Spoleto Festival USA, Saatchi Art, and The Grand Bohemian Gallery have been incredibly encouraging as well. 

13. Where has your work been featured?

My work has been featured on Saatchi Art, Art and Antiques Magazine, World Interior's Magazine, Maker's Magazine, Creative Boom, Lexus Charleston Fashion Week, Decor Aid, Art Reveal Magazine, and more. 

14. How has your family played a role in your career path?

They've always been pretty encouraging in terms of pushing me in all aspects of my life. They always wanted me to perform my best in whatever I was participating in; whether it be school, dance, sports or art programs. In hindsight, I'm much more appreciative of that now. My dad actually received his BFA in art as well, and was an avid painter and drawer when we were growing up. I loved spending time at his drawing table. He's a natural and much more talented than me! I have him to thank for my "creative genes". 

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15. How would you describe your painting style?

My work focuses on a figurative and expressive style. Using a combination of both fluid and heavy body paints, along with pastels and charcoal; I often push the form right to the edge of abstraction. I enjoy using my creative voice to represent authenticity, femininity, and emotion. 

16. What’s next for you?

Next month, I release a new collection of Bathers Paintings I have been working on for quite some time. I have several shows coming up for the fall, including a fair with Saatchi Art. I'm most excited for a collaborative live installation in September with my great friend & artist, Bri Wenke. We'll be sure to share more on that process soon!

17. What is your motto in life?

Feel the fear. Do it anyway

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18. Website: 

www.srueterart.com

19. Instagram:

@sruetercreates

Street Talk, which supports emerging artists that merit being discovered.

Interview by Alison Hernon, Editor-In-Chief, PhotoBook Magazine.