Sam Keil cannot remember ever not being a sculptor. The primary school she attended as a child quickly filled up with the small animal figures she made to the delight of her teachers. Born of a European art dealer father and a Native American Hopi Indian mother Sam has always seen life’s complexities, and desired to make them corporeal. After being educated at Stowe, Sam went on to study sculpture at the Royal Academy under Sir Roger de Grey; there she became the star pupil of Dame Elisabeth Frink both at the Academy and later at Frink’s base in Wiltshire. Various scholarships and awards followed including a stint in Vienna studying the Lipizzaner horses. She has travelled widely in Europe and North America all the while storing in her mind the knowledge and experiences that inform her work. Believing that an artist must understand something of the world to recreate it she has educated herself in the sciences and particularly quantum physics whose principles inform her work.
In both science and art it is often instructive to use more than one framework to understand the same phenomenon or aspect of reality. In the Keil Art galleries in Florence and London, Sam uses this notion to show how an artwork can look quite different, and be characterized by different physical concepts, when viewed on very different length scales.
Her sought-after bronze sculptures and delicately spray-painted wax maquettes are both enigmatic and beautiful, and have been widely appreciated in Europe and America. Created with techniques mastered in the Ancient World and relearned in Renaissance times, the sculptures nevertheless have a modern and uniquely individual twist that has attracted the favourable attention of a great many people.
Quite deliberately, Keil’s creative process eschews models or photographs; all her sculptural work evolves via a series of dynamical interlocking processes involving her imagination, active information derived from the wave function of the universe, and music. Developers of modern theories of consciousness tend to regard as invalid the idea that mental states can be causally efficacious, but they haven’t seen Keil at work.
In some sense her sculptures are, like all objects in our universe, mere surface phenomena; they are explicate three-dimensional forms that have been temporarily unfolded out of an underlying and possibly higher-dimensional intrinsic order. Using high-technology augmented imagery, Keil is now creating sculptural photography installations exploring innovative ways of looking at form and structure through a different lens – the lightbox.
The microscopic world, represented mathematically by quantum theories of particles and dynamical fields, is in some ways simpler and in other ways infinitely more complex than the macroworld of surface reality. As we zoom in towards the microworld, one conceives of a notion that the universal wave function, the quantum organizing principle, the life force, the ‘fire within the belly of the universe’ reveals itself through geometry.
Gazing into the rippling coloured patinas in a Keil lightbox not only gives us a better view of the artist’s mind at work but allows us to evolve our perception of matter and to begin to glimpse its intrinsic order. Spectators often feel themselves hypnotized, simultaneously drawn inwards and pulled outwards by what the camera sees and they do not. Are our minds really separate from the rest of the universe?
With her large public gallery right in the centre of Florence devoted entirely to her work, Keil brings London contemporary art to the birth place of the Renaissance. She has studios in Florence and in the village of Vallico Sotto in the Tuscan Apuan Alps and may be personally visited by appointment.