Established by the State Legislature in 1997, New Hampshire’s Artist Laureate is an honorary two-year position held by an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the arts in New Hampshire. Appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Executive Council, New Hampshire’s Artist Laureate serves as an ambassador for all artists in the state and works in collaboration with the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts to increase the visibility and value of arts in the state.
To date, New Hampshire has had six Artist Laureates:
• Rodney, Miller, Musician / Antrim
• David Lamb, Furniture Maker / Canterbury
• James Aponovich, Painter / Hancock
• Marguerite Mathews, Theatre Artist / Portsmouth
• James Bolle, Composer / Harrisville
• Gerry Williams, Potter / Goffstown
On May 3, 2017 Gary Samson of Concord, an award-winning filmmaker and photographer, was confirmed as the seventh NH Artist Laureate. Up until his recent retirement, Samson served as the Chair of the Photography Department at the New Hampshire Institute of Art, where he taught both digital and traditional film based photography courses and workshops regionally and internationally since 1981. His career in photography started in 1971 at the University of New Hampshire where he served as the University Filmmaker and Manager of Photography.
“As a long time art educator and native of New Hampshire, I would like to use my appointment as Artist Laureate to reach out to aspiring artists of all ages and promote the idea that a life in art in New Hampshire can be a very rewarding and personally fulfilling experience.”
Samson has been awarded two New Hampshire Visual Artist Fellowships for his photography and previously served as an Arts Councilor from 2003 to 2007. His collaborations with the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts include photographing award winners at the biannual Governor’s Arts Awards, photographing artwork for the 2012 Shaping Our Heritage publication, and over 40 pieces selected for purchase through the Council’s Percent for Art program.
Photos by Gary Samson