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Visitors Flock to Argentine Embassy to See Birds That Are ‘Open to Interpretation’

By Clara Longo de Freitas

They’re everywhere around us but we often only pay fleeting attention to them. But Argentine artist Claudia Samper began to take a closer a look at them, and what resulted is a years-long dedication to capturing the beauty of birds.

Samper’s birds are the focus of a new exhibition at the Embassy of Argentina called “Open to Interpretation” that runs until March 29.

When she lived in Buenos Aires, Samper worked as a freelance architect and teaching assistant at the University of Buenos Aires. A few years ago, she decided to pursue her passion in oil and acrylic painting and became a full-time painter.

“I think I always was [interested in painting], but sometimes life is not a straight road,” Samper told the Diplomatic Pouch. “It takes lots of curves until you find your way. I had a lot of U-turns, and I finally ended up painting.”

Claudia Samper Embassy Argentina
At the opening of “Open to Interpretation,” visitors were invited to use sticky notes to write their own interpretations of the paintings and place them in the wall below the frames. Photo: Jose Varela

In “Open to Interpretation,” Samper focuses on what she calls the “avian metaphor” to explore human communication and interaction. Her art features precise, realistic drawings of birds combined with balloon-shaped and origami birds. She uses these characters to narrate human complexity and relations.

Samper was inspired to use birds as her subject matter by observing the wildlife she saw enjoying her morning coffee on the patio. She lives in the woods, and began to be interested in the animals she saw, especially the birds. She carefully observed what she describes as their “apparent freedom, inclination to explore, early rising habits, delicate yet sturdy nests they build for their family, beautiful songs and, of course, their colorful plumage.”

“I realized there was the bully, some birds … that don’t let other birds come close; others that are more gentle,” Samper said. “I realize, ‘OK, we are not that different after all. We have the same characters … that you can find in humans.”

Though simplistic, her paintings are not intended to be straightforward. She “always [tries] to find a twist in [her] art,” she said. There is always a “deeper meaning.”

At the opening night of the exhibition, Samper proposed to the embassy to make the exhibit “interactive, not passive.” They set up tables with sticky notes and colored markers and invited viewers to write their own interpretations of the paintings and place them in the wall below the frames.

Claudia Samper Embassy Argentina
Artist Claudia Samper; Marcos Stancanelli, head of political affairs at the Embassy of Argentina; and Argentine Deputy Chief of Mission Gerardo Díaz Bartolomé welcome guests to the opening of Samper’s exhibition, “Open to Interpretation.” Photo: Jose Varela

“In this particular exhibition, there were 100 people and I [thought], ‘I’m sure there are 100 interpretations of one painting,” Samper said. “Because we all have different stories to tell.”

Samper embraced different interpretations of her work, noting that people are going to view the paintings through the prism of their own experiences. She wanted viewers to make the own interpretations because people can discover themselves through art.

“There are a lot of interpretations, and they are all right. I welcome all interpretations,” she said.

Her own interpretation is that her art is about human relationships. “How we behave, who we are, that is what I want to show,” she told us. “[My art] reflects humanness and human behavior no matter from where you are from. There’s not much of a difference between human beings when you go deep. And that’s what I try to portray and that’s why I think [my art] speaks to many people.”

“Open to Interpretation” runs through March 29, on view from 3 to 5 p.m., at the Embassy of Argentina, 1600 New Hampshire Ave., NW. For more information, visit www.eeeuu.mrecic.gob.ar/en/.

Jordanian Ambassador Dina Kawar
Visitors take photos of the birds depicted by artist Claudia Samper in the exhibition “Open to Interpretation,” now showing at the Embassy of Argentina. Photo:Julian Ortiz


Clara Longo de Freitas is an editorial intern for The Washington Diplomat.




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