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Local artist to appear in TV documentary

April 27, 2012

Photo Courtesy Mimi Sammis

Well-known Narragansett sculptress and peace activist Mimi Sammis will be featured in a PBS documentary entitled Sculpting Peace.

SOUTH KINGSTOWN – On Saturday, April 28 at 7 p.m., PBS will air a documentary depicting the artworks and life of renowned sculptress and peace activist Anne Mimi Sammis whose art inspires many from Narragansett to across the world. The documentary, Sculpting Peace by Director Dylan Howard, will follow Sammis’ life and sculpting works over the last three decades.

With much of her work devoted to inspiring goodness and love, the film follows Sammis on her search for inner peace and guides viewers into the realization that everyone can discover their own path to their personal happiness and creativity.

The film took shape in March 2011 when the Narragansett artist unveiled her sculpture “Rebirth (Women of Peace)” at Four Corners Art Center in Tiverton. Sammis had asked her long-time family friend, Dylan Howard, an aspiring filmmaker to film the exhibit.

During the showing, Sammis presented a replacement of a 300-pound bronze sculpture, “Embrace of Life II” which was stolen the previous March by those who attempted to sell it for scrap metal. While presenting her piece, which shows a woman holding a heart in her raised hands, the man who stole the original work came forward to apologize to Sammis.

After that transcendent event, Sammis and Howard enthusiastically decided to continue filming.

The documentary is a project Howard, who grew up in Narragansett, promised Sammis, his mother’s friend since he discovered the art of filmmaking in 8th grade while studying in Maine.

“Along time ago, I thought she was the most interesting person I knew,” Howard recalls. “I always said one day I was going to make a documentary for her.”

The film shows Sammis’ sculpting process and how she became the artist she is today.

As a child, Sammis, who grew up in Greenwich, Conn. painted and played with clay. As she grew older, she moved on to painting and life drawings – skills she believed would help develop her future career.

“I always loved making art, any kind of art,” Sammis said. “I found sculpting to be too easy. In order to be a respected artist, I had to be able to draw so I learned.”

With more than 300 public and private collections of her art spread across the world, Sammis did become that respected artist. Her work can be observed and appreciated at the United Nations, The Hague, the Arles Museum and the American Embassy in Paris. One sculpture piece by Sammis can be seen by the pier in Narragansett, where she lives. She also hosts the PBS-TV series Love to Paint with Mimi.

Sammis’ renowned success was cemented when she traveled to Mexico to study art at San Miguel deAllende, Mexico in 1982. Her trip followed the death of her husband in 1979 and it was there that she found sculpting helped heal her.

As the film describes the accomplished life of Sammis, it sparks the career of Howard. The documentary will be the first of his works to ever be broadcast on television.

Becoming a filmmaker is a goal Howard has strived for since he was inspired by how the pages of the Lord of the Rings came to life on the motion screen. In the pursuit of his dream, Howard has taken workshops at Maine Media College and created a series of documentaries about the history of towns along the Union River watershed In Maine. Howard’s works reveal the truth behind those, like Sammis, who inspire others.

“From my first years of high school I knew I wanted to make movies and inspire people, as films have always inspired me,” Howard stated.

Howard is well on his way to accomplishing his dream. He has earned much success as winner and finalist of the Huey Film Festivals in Waterville, ME, and as State Champion of Skills USA TV/Video Production as well as a national finalist.

Since 2010, Howard has developed his private film company, Image Gazer Productions, later turning into the Image Gazer film festival that travels the coast of Maine. He also attends the New York Film Academy. As a storyteller, Howard aims to experiment with myths and dreams, and to create films based on lucid dreams to show people different ways of looking at the world.

“I never thought it would happen so soon. I’m really honored to have it shown,” Howard said.

He credits Sammis for teaching him that, with the right attitude, anything is possible.

“[Sammis] deserves to have a legacy for what she’s done for the world,” Howard said.

Sammis’ work reflects peace, a stark difference she says from other art that portrays the dark side of life. In her sculpture she embraces peace and love, which she believes exists in everyone.

“There is always so much tragedy, but I believe in focusing on what’s positive. If someone feels a sense of peace when he or she sees my work, then I have achieved my goal,” Sammis said. “When people tell me how much they love my pieces, I realize those pieces are making contributions to people’s lives.”

The peace of her art mirrors Sammis wish for life – to make a contribution to the world that fosters peace and happiness.

Though Sammis is an accomplished artist, she does not see herself as anything out of the ordinary.

“I’m just doing what I was meant to do,” she said. “I feel like a person lucky enough to use the gift I have been given. It’s important to listen to that inner self guiding you when you have a dream. You need to follow that dream.”

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