For Paradise Valley Community College Librarian Sami Lange, her path through art was not always clear cut. Whereas Lange can’t recall a time in her life that art was not present, it wasn’t until her 30s that everything finally clicked, discovering an incredibly unique niche as a paper artist that has since stirred her inner passions and grounded her.
Lange grew up in Northern California experimenting with different art mediums. In her early 20s, she worked for a skilled print maker learning the intricacies of the process and business. This led to pursuing her bachelor’s degree in fine arts in printmaking. However, Lange knew when she graduated that she did not want to pursue art full time and purposefully set out to create parallel paths between art and academics, which she has maneuvered successfully for the better part of 15 years.
Lange started her academic career as a student at Diablo Valley Community College in Contra Costa County in Northern California. While completing some prerequisites, Lange said she felt grounded and fell in love with her teachers. “It was clear to me, I always wanted to go back to a community college.”
She completed her four-year degree at Sonoma State University, going on to earn her BFA, as well as two master’s degrees in Education and Library Science.
After multiple evacuations during fire seasons that began with the devastating 2017 Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa, California, Lange decided in 2020 to move her family to Arizona where she spent many summers as a child visiting her grandparents.
“When we evacuated, considering I could lose everything really put things into perspective for me,” she said. Although their home was spared, Lange began questioning everything including her art; reevaluating what was important, she was ready for a fresh start.
“I took a long break from my art to figure out what I wanted to achieve with it,” she said. “I realized I needed to simplify what was needed from the work and lean into the idea that art can be a meditation for the artist and provide energy and joy to those that view it.”
In 2018, Lange began experimenting exclusively with mixed media paper art, in which she cuts then ‘bathes’ printmaking paper for up to 24 hours to watch the dye colors take shape.
“It’s a very refreshing way to make art because it takes the control out of your hands in a very important step in the process,” she explained.
Each piece is hand cut with scissors, then stitched together to make a kind of paper quilt. The paper used is designed to be more malleable; a perfect combination between not too hard to cut and hardy enough to stitch together. Lange’s largest piece to date measures 3 feet by 4 feet and found its forever home with a client in the Midwest.
“The process is very meditative for me,” Lange explained of the labor-intensive process. “I make thousands of decisions on each and every piece, sorting the pieces, determining each shape, the depth of color, which side to place upright, where each piece is placed… the decisions go on and on.”
To learn more about Lange’s art and her process, check out the upcoming Summer 2022 issue of What Women Create magazine or visit www.samilangeart.com.