Samantha Polinsky is a multimedia artist living in Boston, MA, and working towards her MFA at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University. She graduated from Dickinson College with a BA in studio art and a minor in English literature.
Humans naturally build emotional bonds between themselves and their things. Amplified by capitalism, the objects we own often come to symbolize our status, successes, and ourselves. I try to emulate the physical and metaphorical weight that comes with that emotional enmeshment with our objects, specifically through the lens of my Jewish American identity. Not everything can be projected onto objects, but I’m doing it anyway.
For my thesis, I am making work about what it means to be part of “the Jews.” While I am certainly a Jewish individual, I have come to realize that the definitive article “the” before “Jews” implies there is a single Jewish mindset. This means that every time someone says, “the Jews,” I am included whether I like it or not.
This feels like a problem to me. I am a relatively secular but deeply culturally tied Jew. I make art combining the sacred content I only kind of understand with my current coming of age mid-twenties adult life. Don’t tell me I’m not unique.
In my most recent work, I am comparing the way “the Jews” are socially portrayed versus how I understand and view myself. Given the dark and satirical nature of Jewish humor, I try to shed light on the half-truths that are both partially right and blatantly antisemitic; half-truths that might be humorous and collegial when shared between Jews, but dangerous and hateful when promoted by gentiles. I am also focusing on what it means to be a contemporary secular young adult, specifically identifying my growing relationship to social and political antisemitism, intergenerational trauma, trauma bonding, and the biblical stereotype of always being prepared for the worst-case scenario. The sculptures I have created therefore function as physical manifestations of what feels like untouchable concepts.