Grant Recipients Grants to Artists Visual Arts 2024

Sam Contis

A black and white photo of Sam Contis turned at a three quarter angle facing the camera. She stands against a stone grey background, wearing a solid black sweater and small hoop earrings.
Photo by Sasha Rudensky.
  • 2024 Grants to Artists
  • Visual Arts
  • Visual Artist
  • Born 1982, Pittsburgh, PA
  • She/Her
  • Additional Information

Artist Statement

My practice is rooted in photography and moving image. I work in close proximity to my subjects over extended periods of time, with the aim of making images and films that express possibility, intimacy, movement, and transformation. Among my central concerns are the figure and the landscape and their interconnectedness. I am interested in the capacity of images both to reinforce and to destabilize individual and collective beliefs about gender, identity, and place.

My current work focuses on the physicality of the female body. I am working in tandem on two projects that chronicle the passage of time while exploring physical exertion, artistic and athletic practice and repetition, collaboration, perception, and sustained attention.

- January 2024


Sam Contis is a visual artist working in photography and moving image whose practice also encompasses sound, performance, installation, and book and print-making. Often drawing from archival materials, Contis’s work explores the evolution of place and identity over time and the body in movement. 

Contis’s solo survey exhibition, Transit, at the Carré d’Art, Nîmes, France (2022) included photographs and video work from three series made between 2013 and 2023: Deep Springs (2013-2018), an examination of masculinity and myth in the American West; Overpass (2020-2022), which considers borders within and pathways through the natural environment; and an untitled project (2018-) focusing on young cross-country runners. Together, the three series comprise an investigation of the body in motion through the landscape and through transitional states of identity.

Contis’s six-year collaboration with vocalist Inbal Hever was the subject of the exhibition Duet at Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery in New York, NY (2022). In this ongoing project incorporating live performance, audio recordings, photographs, and video, Contis explores the physicality of the voice through different modes of perception. In the video piece Untitled (2022-2024) Hever is filmed in close-up, her face and neck becoming a landscape animated by voice and breath.

Other exhibitions featuring Contis’s work include: Masculinities, Barbican Art Gallery, London, UK (2020); Being: New Photography, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (2018); Sam Contis: Matrix 266, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA (2017). She is the author of three artist’s books: Deep Springs (MACK, 2017), Day Sleeper (MACK, 2020), and Overpass (Aperture, 2022). 

Contis’s work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK; Carré d’Art, Nîmes, France; the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, among others.

Contis is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship (2022), the Nancy Graves Grant for Visual Artists (2016), and the Aaron Siskind Foundation Fellowship (2016). She is also the recipient of a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant (2018). Contis received her M.F.A. from Yale University in 2008, and her B.F.A. from New York University in 2004.

A photograph of a person laying down in grass on a sunny day. They are wearing a long sleeved denim dress that reaches below their knees, black pants underneath, and tan sneakers. Their eyes are closed as one hand reaches up to touch their own cheek, the other rests on their abdomen. Their right leg is bent with their foot flat on the ground and their knee touching the ground.

Denim Dress, 2013, archival pigment print, 34” x 44.”

A black and white photo of a person's arm wrapped around another person, lifting them, in front of a grey, out of focus background. The lifting arm is soiled with dirt and the individual is wearing a tank top, only their arm and shoulder are visible. The person they are holding is wearing a t-shirt, their arm flush against their side, only their right shoulder and torso are visible.

Embrace, 2015, gelatin silver print, 8.75” x 7” (print).

A photo of the inside of a large, brightly lit gallery space taken from a corner of the room. The room is empty except for two small black speakers mounted on tripods that face each other on either side of a square grey rug. The walls are primarily bare with a few small mounted photos.

Installation view of Duet, Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery, New York, NY, 2022.

A gallery room with light wooden floors and framed photographs of various sizes lining the walls. Video works are being projected next to the photographs on one wall. Many are works in black and white, some depict landscapes and others depict human subjects.

Installation view of Deep Springs in “Being: New Photography” at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, 2018.

A photograph shows two people in the foreground from the torso down, illuminated by sunlight with the arms and legs of other people visible in shadow in the background. The two in the front are wearing short red athletic shorts. The person on the left is bent over with one leg raised, their right hand reaches under their raised knee holding the hand of another person. The person on the right is half in the frame, their left arm is stretched in front of the person next to them, holding the hand of another. In the background, another pair of held hands is visible in shadow behind crossing limbs.

Trust Exercise, 2018, archival pigment print, 26” x 36.”

A black and white photograph of vocalist Inbal Hever in a gallery room with a black speaker in the background to her right and a couple of photos on the wall behind her. She is turned toward the right and her mouth is open as she vocalizes, her hands are raised in front of her body. She is wearing a black sleeveless shirt.

Performance still from Duet, Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery, New York, NY, 2022. Performer: Inbal Hever.

A photograph of two black and white framed photographs in white frames hung next to each other. Surrounded by wide white mat within the frame, the photographs are closeup shots of a subject's face. In both, the subject gazes downwards, shielding their eyes from the sun.

Installation view of Transit, Carré d’Art, Nîmes, France, 2022.

A photograph of two black and white framed photographs in white frames hung next to each other. Surrounded by wide white mat within the frame, the photographs are closeup shots of a subject's face. In both, the subject gazes downwards, shielding their eyes from the sun.

Motion Study (Devyani), 2021, gelatin silver prints, diptych, 20” x 16” each (framed).

A black and white closeup photograph of vocalist Inbal Hever. The image is blurred as though captured mid-movement, Hever's eyes are closed and her mouth open. Her hands are raised on either side of her mouth, fingers gently curved and framing her jaw. She is wearing a white sleeveless top.

Untitled (Inbal, July 18), 2018, archival pigment print, 56" x 40."