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Art

Strokes of Genius

Written by: Eloise Stark

Samantha Woj, painting with a hockey puck

Samantha Woj’s Dynamic Fusion of Art and Athletics

Samantha Woj, then a Masters student in art therapy, had broken her ankle and felt cooped up. Looking at the home gym she’d set up in the basement of her family home, she joked with her sister that she might as well roll a soccer ball in a tub of paint since she wouldn’t be able to play the game for a while. “Do it!” her sister said, and out of a mixture of boredom and curiosity, Woj found an old canvas, dipped the ball in the paint, and started. 

“Straight away, I loved the texture,” Woj said. “It reminded me of being an athlete, of the traces and marks you make while playing sports.” She had experimented with various art forms during her studies, but this one felt right—like she could finally convey everything she wanted. 

Since childhood, Woj has turned to sports and the arts to express herself and fit in with her peers. At times, she felt different from other kids because she was born with ectrodactyly, a congenital disorder that affects the fingers and toes. She has “two fingers on each hand,” as her Insta bio reads, adding, “What’s your superpower?”

Portrait of Scottie Barnes, Samantha Woj

Samantha Woj’s Dynamic Fusion of Art and Athletics

Looking at her work, it’s evident that Woj’s hands are her superpower. Her artwork is stunning, with energy, depth, and dimension. Using sports equipment, she creates both abstract paintings and detailed portraits.

The abstract work is a play on color and texture, made unique by her use of spherical, imprinted balls as her paintbrushes. You feel like you could get lost in them, following the intriguing shapes, the colors, and the surprising emotions that emerge from the paint. 

However, Woj’s portraits truly set her work apart. On her Instagram page, you can see videos of her process. She takes a piece of sports equipment—a ball, bat, or hockey stick—and dips it in paint, then takes it to the canvas, delicately tapping and rolling it onto the white. The work that gradually emerges under her hand is surprisingly delicate. Many of her works are monochrome, and artful shading brings to life the faces of the athletes she depicts. 

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