Samara Golden: Upstairs at Steve's

September 10, 2020–February 21, 2021

Two visitors viewing Samara Golden: Upstairs at Steve's.
Samara Golden, in collaboration with The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, Upstairs at Steve’s (installation detail), 2020. Mixed media. 80' 7" x 17' 6" x 16'. Photo credit: Carlos Avendaño.

At once infinite and ephemeral, Golden’s immersive structures have been described as psychological architecture for the way they thoughtfully embed layers of consciousness within socio-economic stratification. Upstairs at Steve’s depicts a complete upending of an outdoor tableau, set in a seaside landscape. The exhibition reveals a mysterious confluence of biography, history, psychology, and nature. Familiar household objects are strewn across the dunes, as if deposited from a natural disaster, with an accompanying soundscape adding another atmospheric layer.

To achieve the dueling sensations of depth and expanse, the artist distorts perspective with strategically placed mirrors, prompting viewers to question what is real and what is illusion. Golden has introduced a new dimension to her signature practice of warping space—notably employed in her installation, The Meat Grinder’s Iron Clothes, at the 2017 Whitney Biennial—as she looks to the outdoors. Building upon the artist’s original soundscape, visitors are invited to submit audio recordings of their immediate surroundings (recordings can be e-mailed to info@fabricworkshopandmuseum.org), with the goal of generating a cumulative and collaborative soundscape over the course of the exhibition.

Call for Participation: A Day Ends / A Day Begins

During the sunset hour, light falls through the channel of mirrors in Samara Golden’s installation, creating the soft spectacle of a day closing. A defining characteristic of this current moment is an overwhelming feeling of isolation coupled with a pervasive, wired connectivity. We began to wonder in this unsteady time, how do we reflect on our days? How can we understand this moment with empathy? Can technology help us?

With these questions, we reached out to Chris Callison-Burch of University of Pennsylvania’s Computer and Information Science Department which led to a partnership with PhD student Ajay Patel. Ajay created an interface for FWM which can collect visitor reflections and use these reflections to potentially expand the ability of technology and artificial intelligence to generate empathy and reflect and refract a collective response.

Visit aday.fabricworkshopandmuseum.org to participate in the project; please note that A.I. responses may take some time to generate after you submit your reflections. Thank you for your patience as the A.I. program is learning!

360° Photo


The Fabric Workshop and Museum
Eighth Floor

Art in This Exhibition

Artists in This Exhibition


Samara Golden’s Memento Mori Give Shape to Grief
Olivia Jia, Hyperallergic, February 9, 2021

Samara Golden: Upstairs at Steve’s
Elizabeth Buhe, The Brooklyn Rail, February 5, 2021

The Lighthouse
Travis Diehl, Carla, November 17, 2020

FYI Loves the Arts: WPA Travel Posters, Fabric Workshop and Museum
Wendy Daughenbaugh, 6abc, November 16, 2020

Samara Golden Creates a Shimmering Ouroboros
Madi Pfaff, Title, November 13, 2020

What Samara Golden’s Newest Installation Conveys about this Tumultuous Year
Adrian Madlener, Metropolis, October 28, 2020

This new Philly art exhibit is a grand illusion, showing a world turned upside down.
Tom Hine, Philadelphia Inquirer, September 18, 2020

samara golden sets optically-warping, post-disaster seaside scene in a philadelphia museum
Nina Azzarello, designboom, September 9, 2020

About the Artist

American, born 1973, lives in Los Angeles, CA.

Samara Golden graduated from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 1995 and received her MFA from Columbia University in 2009. Golden has had solo exhibitions at MoMA PS1, New York; YBCA, San Francisco; Night Gallery, Los Angeles; and CANADA, New York. Her work was included in the 2014 Hammer Biennial, and Room to Live at MOCA Los Angeles. Golden’s most recent project, “The Meat Grinder’s Iron Clothes,” was featured in the 2017 Whitney Biennial. A monograph was published in conjunction with her exhibition at MoMA PS1, and her work has been included in Artforum, Art in America, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Mousse, among other publications. Golden’s work is in the permanent collection of The Whitney Museum, New York; LACMA and MOCA, Los Angeles; The Zabludowicz Collection, London; and The Yuz Museum, Shanghai.


Support for Samara Golden: Upstairs at Steve’s is provided by The Coby Foundation, Ltd., The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, Maja Paumgarten and John Parker, Canada, and Budmen Industries.

Major support of FWM is provided by the Marion Boulton “Kippy” Stroud Foundation. FWM receives state art funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Additional support is provided by The Philadelphia Cultural Fund, Agnes Gund, and the Board of Directors and Members of The Fabric Workshop and Museum.

Past Related Events

September Member Tour: Samara Golden: Upstairs at Steve’s
September 25, 2020, 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm

October Member Tour: Samara Golden: Upstairs at Steve’s
October 30, 2020, 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm

Virtual Discussion
Mending A Ruin: Textiles and Healing
October 7, 2020, 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Virtual Family Program
20/20 Workshop
October 17, 2020, 11:00 am to 12:00 pm

Virtual Workshop
Mending and Meaning Making Workshop
October 28, 2020, 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm

Virtual Workshop
Illusion Quilt Sampler Workshop with Vivien Wise
December 5, 2020, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm

Outdoor Family Program
Parkway Pals
September 16, 2020, 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Outdoor Family Program
Parkway Pals
September 23, 2020, 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Outdoor Family Program
Parkway Pals
October 7, 2020, 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Outdoor Family Program
Parkway Pals
October 14, 2020, 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Partner Event
A Day Ends / A Day Begins: Technology as a Language for Empathy
January 28, 2021, 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm

Virtual Program
Storm at Split Rock: Empathy and Experimentation with FWM
February 4, 2021, 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm