Samantha Black
Samantha Black

Born in Spanish Town, Jamaica, Samantha Black was 10 when she moved to Pittsburgh and immersed herself in the arts — from dance to creative writing. At 18, she joined the U.S. Army. A multidisciplinary artist, Samantha works with laser cutters, 3D printers and welding, and produces “projects and events at the intersection of art and social change.” Her work has been seen in exhibits throughout Pittsburgh, and her writing has been published by Very Smart Brothas and Nubian Impulse.

Legislative assistant to Rep. Jake Wheatley, Jr., Samantha serves on the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Partners Board, Hill District Arts Council and Mayor Peduto’s Startup and Entrepreneur Advisory Council. What has been her “most challenging and rewarding endeavor” yet? She says it’s being mom to Gabriel (5) and Tori (4).

What upcoming events are you excited to attend?

The two events I curated for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s 2018 Gallery Crawl in the Cultural District on Friday night: “Album Release Party” and “Give Us The Mic” (teen open mic).

Best part of your job?

Making sure great artists have opportunities and receive payment for their craft. We should really revise this whole idea that paying artists in “exposure” and “experience” is a viable option.

What’s your big idea for Pittsburgh?

A documentary chronicling the plight of black artists, a Caribbean carnival, tiny desk concerts and an awards show. Hopefully no one steals my ideas and executes them poorly.

Samantha Black. Photo by Deon W. Smalley.

Ideal date night in Pittsburgh?

Going to the Schenley Oval with a basket of bar chicken to look at the city skyline and discuss world domination (in a good way of course).

It’s time to unwind. Where do you head?

HackPittsburgh to use the laser etcher and 3D printer. I make my artwork from recycled materials that I find and acquire from the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse or Construction Junction.

Who should be the unofficial Mayor of Pittsburgh?

Jake Wheatley, Jr. He doesn’t use emojis in texts though, so I’m not sure how hip of a mayor he will be.

Best PGH brunch spot?

Both Z-Best BBQ and Carmi’s. I can’t decide currently, so ask me again in about 10 minutes.

What song in your playlist is on endless repeat?

Two songs: “Bickenhead” by Cardi B and “’Til It’s Over” By Anderson .Paak. Balance.

You need a drink. Where do you go?

Young Brothers Bar on the Northside. Best chicken in the city and the drinks won’t cost you rent.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ll tackle this week?

The laundry on my bed that has been sitting there for a few weeks. The first thing I’ll do when I get rich is hire a maid, because I’m way too good at avoiding these responsibilities.

“Everything you can imagine is real” — Pablo Picasso (Samantha photographed by GJ Jones).
“Everything you can imagine is real” — Pablo Picasso (Samantha photographed by GJ Jones).

Who is the last person you texted (and what was it about)?

I drunk texted my ex to tell him that I love him, but he left me on “read” — *cue the world’s tiniest violin*

What is the one thing that would surprise Pittsburghers most about you?

I absolutely hate fries on my salad. It’s a greasy, salty abomination.

See who else is NEXT Up here.

Have a NEXT Up suggestion? Email us!

Jennifer Baron

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator...