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C California Style

Photo Finish

by C California Style

Samantha Thomas talks art and surfing

Don’t be fooled by Samantha Thomas’ seemingly chilled-out disposition. “Internally, I’m obsessive,” the contemporary artist insists, “but it’s a good dichotomy, because it comes through in the work.” While Thomas grew up with an easel in her mother’s art studio in Texas, the 37-year-old didn’t embrace her own creativity until the age of 18, when she decided to forgo a golf scholarship at Oklahoma’s University of Tulsa in favor of pursuing art, which led her to the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena. She then worked for seven years as abstract expressionist Ed Moses’ studio manager before focusing on her own paintings. Thomas’ work has since been featured at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Anat Ebgi and Maccarone in Los Angeles, and in November, she’ll find herself in Mexico City for an exhibition, later followed by a residency in Oaxaca. Of her three-dimensional pieces, composed of deconstructed traditional painting materials, Thomas says, “I’m always trying to subvert the material, so when people look at it and think it’s plastic, rubber or latex—it’s just canvas and paint.” She adds that she’s “trying to create desire for the viewer to want to touch the work.” She laughs, then clarifies, “I don’t actually want anyone to touch it.” While Thomas’ studio is based in L.A.’s Mid-City, she calls Malibu home. “A good day is bookended with surfing,” she says. “The water is the only place where I can release my thoughts and process what I’ve done during the day.”

Photography by
MARK GRIFFIN CHAMPION.

Styling by
REBECCA RUSSELL.

Written by
LINDZI SCHARF.

HAIR: Pete Lamden. MAKEUP: Jo Strettell at Tracey Mattingly using Jillian Dempsey. NAILS: Emi Kudo at Opus Beauty using Chanel Le Vernis.