A Conversation with Alumna Artist Sam Joslin

This article is part of our Alumni Spotlight Series, which focuses on UA art alumni who are in the midst of an art career now, whether they are continuing with schooling or have taken their art skills out into the work world.

At a glance, a group photo of Sam Joslin’s current ceramic sculptures resembles a candid family portrait. Joslin, a 2019 BFA alumna, is making sculptures in her first year as an MFA student at Ball State University that seem to have relationships, with each other — and with her.

Sculpture by alumna Sam Joslin
Sculptures by Sam Joslin (“family photo”), courtesy of the artist.

In photos of her work, her sculptures, made from ceramic, wood, fabric and other mixed media, turn toward each other as if in a conversation with friends or family. “With the ‘family photos’ or interactive photos,” Joslin explains, “the pieces weren’t necessarily made in relation to each other but after the fact, I felt some of them spoke well to each other. I think this highlights their playfulness as well. With the wood-turned “cone-like” appendages specifically, I always read those as being a sort of listening or speaking act, especially with how they lean towards each other.”

Joslin received her BFA with a concentration in sculpture and ceramics from UA and won numerous scholarships and awards, including a UA Undergraduate Research & Creative Activity (URCA) grant. She held her BFA thesis exhibition at Harrison Galleries in Tuscaloosa in April 2019. Joslin then completed a post-baccalaureate degree in ceramics at the University of Montana before applying to Ball State.

To expand the visual language of her sculptures, Joslin said that she’s been incorporating fabric and wood into them and that she’s looking at the forms of plants and insects for inspiration in the forms themselves. She explains, “For example, the way that plants propagate and grow new extensions.”

“Different materials often come with their own connotations…materials like wood and wool and fabric – they read as much softer [than clay] and even domestic and for this, they add to the ideas of intimacy and relationship [in my work].”

Joslin gives the sculptures she’s working on titles that sound and feel more like the names of friends or characters she’s met. “When I was naming these pieces,” Joslin said, “I was thinking of gender-neutral names. In the past, I had just named pieces after emotions or feelings. However, I felt like giving them actual human names helped to imply their personality and life-like qualities.”

Watch this video to hear Sam Joslin speak more about her work and follow her @samjoslin_art on Instagram.

For more information about The University of Alabama’s programs in art history and studio art, visit our Degree Programs page.