Name: Sam Kirk
Education: BFA, Marketing Communication, BFA, Interior Design & Architecture
Web site: www.iamsamkirk.com
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you “grew up?”
Oh wow, where do I begin on this one? I was a big dreamer so my aspirations were always changing. I think my imagination and the make believe world that I sometimes live in has always played a more major role in my life then I was aware of. Who and what I wanted to be got tangled up in that, and I mean that in the best way. I guess I remember debating between a lawyer and construction worker the most. I think the construction part came true more than the lawyer, but I like to think a lot of my work is a visual portrayal of an argument or a fight I would have had as a lawyer.
Where were you born and where did you grow up for the most part of your life?
I was born and raised in Chicago, mostly on the Southside of the city. Interestingly I was raised in predominantly white neighborhoods and was exposed to what it means to be a colored woman in a distinct way.
What has been the “proudest” moment in your life?”
To date… Hmm. That is tough, I’ve accomplished so many things that someone with my background wouldn’t have expected. My proudest accomplishment is the moment I am living in right now. I remember when I finished college I told myself that getting a 9 to 5 job was temporary. I never had a desire to work for anyone else. I wanted to be independently sufficient, employed and supported by just my own skills and talent. The goal was to make that happen by 30 and I did. I’m very, very proud of that. I took a leap to live my dream and left a career in advertising that was steadily growing and at a time when the country was in decline. I’ve turned the talent that I used to do just as a hobby into a profitable business and it’s opened my eyes to so many opportunities that are out there if you just believe in yourself.
What (if any) adversaries or discouragements did you face growing up?
Life in general could have been a discouragement. I’ve always had to work extra hard. I have pretty much been on my own since I was 16 and have had to find my own way. I didn’t receive a ton of guidance, so those life lessons that people learn from mentors or parents I had to stumble into them. I had to figure out what worked for me in order to survive. I have done a lot of things, some that I am not so proud of, but I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t go through the struggle.
What does being a Latina woman mean to you?
I always laugh a little before these questions… because I honestly don’t know where to begin. When you are so immersed in a culture, how do you define it exactly? I love being from a culture that is passionate and deeply rooted in its traditions. I know and understand what it means to have strong family ties and that family connection plays a role in every relationship in my life. Being a Latina makes me uncontrollably interested in culture and community. I understand hard work, what I truly need to survive and what I can and can’t live without, because I have. I know what it feels like to break barriers to rise up to another level, a very unexpected one.
Latinas are having a big impact on the word today. Many holding positions in politics, education, government to help their own people and other people to understand and recognize that we are capable of more than people thought.
Being a Latina means my heart is full of passion, my mind is full of strength and creativity and my work ethic feeds my success.
What advice do you have for today’s young Latinas?
Don’t get caught up in the cycle. You know, I’m a third generation American and I’ve surround myself with Latinos of all sorts. Seeing and learning about the different traditions and ways of living life fuels me in a way that I didn’t anticipate. As a Latin woman we often find ourselves sitting on the fence, not really knowing which side to choose. Do I live out what traditionally my female ancestors have done and focus on being a good mother and wife or do I focus on building the up my talents and myself first. I see a lot of our women choosing the side that’s comfortable, and familiar. I’d encourage young women to dream and make that dream a reality. You know the dreams we wish for when we are young stick with us throughout our lives. My mom recently decided she wanted to go to college, and was looking at the “jobs” she could go to school for. And like a typical Latina she began looking at service positions, jobs that would wear her out physically and not challenge her mentally. So I asked her what she would like to do for a living? And her eyes lit up in a way I never seen before. It was like no one had ever asked her if she could be anything what would she be. I never want to wonder what my life would have been like if I had followed my real dreams.
What Latina in your life has been a major inspiration and role model?
Ann-Gel S. Palermo is a great friend and a huge inspiration of mine. She is amazingly smart, strong, stands her ground and more than anything is extremely engaging. Ann-Gel both professionally and personally is a woman that engages people, a conversation or an adventure with conviction, without fear. She sets her mind to accomplishing something and makes it happen, despite the challenges surrounding her. Her work and passion in life mix together in a way that makes what she does for a living pure, real, believable and for me, inspiring.
What is your favorite quote or saying that you live by in life?
“Remember, your not doing it for the money”
If there was one experience in your life that you could do over, what is it and what would it be?
I would have traveled and studied abroad for college. I was the first person to graduate from college in my family and growing up in working class neighborhood, there weren’t a lot of people I could go to for advice. I would have gone to art school in Barcelona or New York and explored a bit more. I still dream about that. Life isn’t over when you turn 30, right?
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I will be an artist, but on a completely different level.10 years from now, I will be traveling the world exhibiting my work, building collections for clients, exploring and engaging communities to build work with them. I would love to start a movement behind my Provoke Culture mantra.
Name a fellow Latina, in your professional world, that inspires you. Why?
Sadly, on a day-to-day basis my world is very male driven. I could easily name several Latino artists that inspire me, but there aren’t many Latina artists that are at a level that I look up to that are in my everyday world. There are several Latinas I have recently met that are making a difference using art. They work in the communities I communicate with and I am looking forward to building those relationships. They aren’t artists per se but they are driven, strong and intelligent Latinas that I am excited to work with on a regular basis.
Judith Diaz (Dean of Pedro Albizu Campos High School), Veronica Ocasio (COO of the Illinois Puerto Rican Arts & Cultural Museum), and Angela Anderson (Spiritual Guide for artists in merging art with spirituality) to name a few.
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