Profile: Encompassing the Self

by Elizabeth Scott

photography courtesy of BU Hillel Facebook

Standing on a ladder, balanced precariously with a paintbrush in one hand and a cup of paint in the other, Sam Weinberger turns a plain 10-by-12-foot wall in the Boston University Hillel building into a massive work of art.

Titled “Encompass”, this is Weinberger’s (CFA ’21) first mural, but since its creation, he has been dedicated to getting his name out there and producing more content to establish himself as an artist in Boston.

Weinberger’s development as an artist began in middle school after he was inspired by the animation of a favorite video game. Initially interested in going the animation route, Weinberger switched to drawing and, in the summer after 7th grade, went to an art camp in Canada, where he was in for a rude awakening.

“I was the worst one there,” Weinberger said. “The teacher actually told me that I should think about pursuing something else. She said I was too far behind the other kids to ever catch up.”

Despite this discouragement, Weinberger focused on bettering his work. During the summer after his junior year of high school, Weinberger went to a month-long pre-college visual arts program in Brooklyn through Pratt Institute.

Before the program, Weinberger aspired to go to an arts institute, however the narrow focus of the program helped him realize that he needed a more well-rounded education at a larger university.

With admittance to Boston University’s College of Fine Arts, Weinberger’s hard work paid off. Over the summer after his freshman year, Weinberger participated in the Santeador Sophomore internship program, snagging a design internship with the Brooklyn-based Seltzer Creative Group. The design work Weinberger was working on for the internship was digital in nature, designing logos, pamphlets, websites and more for businesses and companies.

“The internship gave me new perspective on what an artist could be. Before, it seemed like graphic design was the only option to make money was an artist,” he said. “The internship showed me that there were other avenues of art that I wanted to explore.”

Later in the summer, after the internship, Weinberger went to Florida to visit family. There, he experienced the Basel Art Festival in Miami. The festival features over 4,000 artists, but the most famous aspect of the festival is the wall art.

Wandering through the installations of murals, Weinberger was struck by the realization that his artistic wanderings through painting and digital art were meant to lead him here, to murals, to large-scale, dramatic pieces with flair and energy.

“I was doing large pieces all throughout freshman year, not thinking about murals at all,” Weinberger said. “My signature as an artist has been ‘Big Sam’ since freshman year and after Basel, the pieces came together and I just started focusing on murals.”

Weinberger has been involved with BU Hillel since his freshman year. Last semester, he and Ethan Sobel, Assistant Director of BU Hillel, discussed doing an art installation.

Their original plan was more graphic design-orientated. After the summer, Weinberger came in with a new vision for a more illustrative process.

Starting in late September and continuing for 35 hours across a month-and-a-half, the mural, “Encompass,” was completed and officially inaugurated on October 11.

Since then, Weinberger has been actively seeking out work, going into Allston to talk to local businesses, giving out his business card and just generally publicizing his work.

“Wherever I can get a wall, I’ll paint,” Weinberger said.

To keep up with his art you can follow Weinberger on Instagram @bigsamspaints or check out his website bigsamspaints.com!