Deep Springs, 2017
Contis’s photographs capture the strange beauty of macro and microcosmic views in the high desert. The indistinguishableness of earth and body and the sensual echoes of human and animal give her works an Ovidian sense of imminent metamorphoses. – Lawrence Rinder
The images in Sam Contis’s Deep Springs were made in a remote desert valley east of the Sierra Nevada. The work centres on a small, all-male liberal arts college, founded in 1917 by the educational pioneer L. L. Nunn.
The college and its surroundings provide a stage on which Contis explores the construction of myth, place, and masculine identity. Bringing together new photographs with pictures made by the first students at the college a century ago, Deep Springs engages with the enduring image of the American West––one that Hollywood, mass media, and the history of American photography have imprinted into the collective psyche.
Sam Contis (b.1982) lives and works in California. Her work is represented in the collections of LACMA and the Yale University Art Gallery, and has recently been exhibited at the Fotomuseum Antwerp, Gallery Luisotti in Los Angeles, and Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery in New York. She holds an MFA from Yale University and a BFA from New York University. In 2017 she will have her first solo museum show at the Berkeley Art Museum. Deep Springs is her first book.