We had the good fortune of connecting with Samuel Wickey and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Samuel, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I chose an artistic creative career because its fun, exciting, inspiring and it gave me the opportunity to meet famous people that I idolize so I kept pursuing it. It also allows me to express my deepest emotions. I came from a dark past where I was very afraid.
Growing up as a terrified Amish child was extremely difficult because I could not speak to anyone about my fears, nightmares, and personal illusions that were perceived as reality. My family did not believe in any form of expression or communication because we were in the strictest Amish sect. They did not even believe in hugging their children or saying I love you.
My OCD began at age 7, and I remember sitting on a chair in front of my family. I opened my mouth wide, and then inhaled a lot of air while looking at my mother. I then held up my hand and blew out the air onto the back of my hand like I was fogging up a glass. I would repeat this action over and over, but no one would say a word. They would watch in confusion. I did this action over and over because I longed to feel connected and comforted by my mother who could not hug me. In my mind, I was inhaling my mother and blowing her out on my skin.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I create bronze sculptures from my imagination. I begin with clay then turn it into bronze. I create Angels sculptures and sculptures of professional NBA and NFL athletes in action for their homes. I also create sculptures of loved ones.
Also, after many requests for a story, I produced a feature film about what it was like being an Amish child with severe OCD.
What I am most proud of is sharing my film with the world on Amazon Prime and showing people that even though I was not allowed to sculpt when I was an Amish child since my Amish sect thought sculpting was evil and bad, I went on to create sculptures and was eventually commissioned by NFL athletes to create sculptures of them in action and I was commissioned by an NBA team to create two bronze sculptures of two of their top players and they gave them the sculptures I created as an award for their retirement at their retirement ceremonies which were nationally televised.
My film is mostly about what I experienced as an Amish child with extreme OCD but I share this information about my sculptures and show some of my Angel sculpture.at the end of my film. My film has won 24 Best Feature Awards at festivals all over the world. The nationally televised award ceremonies and the film festivals are my most proud and exciting moments. I was so excited to answer questions after my film played at each festival.
The Q and A sessions would always go on too long and the festival director would have to tell the audience that there was no more time for questions. I was beside myself.
It was not easy to accomplish all this. I worked very hare sculpting for countless hours. Also, I sometimes thought I was going to quit filming my movie because it was the most difficult thing I have ever done.
I still have more than 100 Amish dresses which were actually made by the Amish. One of the most difficult things was scheduling my actors. I also had to teach my actors how to speak the Amish language. In my film we speak both English and Amish. Honestly I am not sure how I finished it.
I do want to mention that Kasha Fauscett was like an Angel who came in and helped me and I am forever grateful for her. She and I persevered and eventually we made it to the finish line.
I learned many lessons about how to work with people and how to know who and who not to work with. When I shoot another film I will be more prepared in many ways.
I want the world to know I came from a very dark and scary place but faced my fears and followed my visions and walked into peace and love. This was incredible since my Amish sect did not believe in hugging their children or saying I love you. The did not allow affection.
Also, my movie fans keep asking for a book about what happened after I left the Amish religion with my family and how I was commissioned by the NBA and NFL I now have written both those books and I’m finalizing them and they will be available soon.
You can see my sculptures and watch my film on Amazon Prime at www.sambronze.com
Here is more that I want people to know so they can be inspired and walk through and beyond their fears.
Childhood fears have a way of haunting you. For Sam Wickey, those fears not only still haunt him, they are responsible for the man he is and for the recognition he has received as an artist and film maker.
Sam grew up in what he identifies as the strictest Amish sect. Within this community, people were not allowed to show affection to one another; they weren’t even allowed to hug their own children or tell them they were loved. He has described this kind of upbringing as a perfect storm that led to the onset of his severe OCD.
Sam was only 6 when he was forced to be present at a pig slaughter. Then it became necessary for his father to shoot a family dog suspected of having rabies. These harsh realities, coupled with the lack of familial intimacy and love, made the young boy wonder if he was just like one of the pigs.
Would he also be killed and eaten?
“I worried about being killed by my family day and night for several months, with no reassurance that I was loved. Then, suddenly, I snapped, and the rituals began, and I could not stop,” Sam said.
Sam began practicing odd rituals at the age of 7. He explains exactly how it began:
“I remember sitting on a chair in front of my family. I opened my mouth wide, and then inhaled a lot of air while looking at my mother. I then held up my hand and blew out the air onto the back of my hand… I longed to feel connected and comforted by my mother, who could not hug me. In my mind, I was inhaling my mother and blowing her out onto my skin,” Sam said.
Confused, Sam’s family only watched. No one tried to ask him what he was doing or why. No matter how often he repeated this odd behavior, no one said a word to him. They only talked among themselves. His parents feared he might be possessed.
More rituals followed. Simply getting dressed became an issue, because he had to count as he put on his clothes. If his mind was locked onto a terror, he would have to repeat an action many times. Then Sam became convinced that God was not hearing his prayers. He believed his siblings were in danger of falling prey to the same rituals he had
to practice. The rituals were his way of protecting not only himself, but his siblings from the outside world.
An Unrecognized Talent
One day Sam startled and frightened his parents when they saw him skillfully fashioning a figure from clay. They were convinced there was something badly wrong with him. But Sam didn’t think anything of it.
“I didn’t know I was doing anything unusual,” Sam said. “I thought I was just playing with clay.”
No one encouraged Sam to pursue his talent. No one, including Sam, even realized he had talent.
“I didn’t think anything of it,” Sam said. “I thought, ok, whatever, I can put clay together. I didn’t know it was anything.”
And that could have been the end of that.
Life Outside the Amish Community
Sam was 8 when his family left their Amish community, but Sam still did not find relief from his fears. The fears and rituals actually increased. The family visited several different churches as they acclimated to their life outside. In some of these churches, Sam saw pamphlets in which the devil was depicted as throwing people into Hell.
Sam’s young mind balked, thinking, “Oh goodness! Is this what’s going to happen to us?”
Plagued by bullies at school, adjusting to a new life proved quite difficult for Sam,. Things went on this way until Sam was fourteen. Then, a 17 year old student stood up for him at school, and invited Sam to his house. But when Sam finally went, he was appalled at the illegal schemes this older student had for making money. At first, Sam refused to join him, but the guy was persistent and persuasive. Eventually, Sam was angry enough to join him. The next thing Sam knew, he was in trouble with the law.
Blessings in Disguise
This resulted in Sam being sent to a boy’s home, where he was given his first psychological test. This revealed that he had severe OCD. It was good news, because finally, he was seeing a doctor, receiving therapy, and getting the help he needed. Although he was still the victim of bullying, Sam thinks of his year there with gratitude.
Sam said, “The woman in charge… cared about me and wanted to help me. She got me an amazing therapist. It was the most wonderful thing I had ever experienced.”
Life Goes On
After rejoining his family, now in Phoenix, Sam was in therapy and attended seminars for ten years. He said his OCD was constant, but would intensify if something bad happened. A breakthrough came when, at the age of 25, Sam realized the catalyst for his OCD — fear. He remembers thinking:
“Everything will be ok if you stop being afraid.”
In everyday practice, that means facing his fears. He finds therapy by concentrating on something else, sculpting, and surprisingly, rage. His OCD is a bully, but if he stands up to it, rages back at it, he can control it.
“It’s a choice, and it works,” Sam said.
A Talent Recognized
While watching a Phoenix Suns game, Sam saw 6’1″ Kevin Johnson slam dunk the ball over a player who stands at 7’2″.
Sam was so impressed, he said to himself, “Wow! I’ve gotta make a sculpture of that.”
Sam had not done any sculpting since that one time as a child, and didn’t really know if he could do it satisfactorily. But he thought he had a knack for it, and decided to try. While working on the sculpture, Sam prayed for God to give him a connection to Johnson, thinking he might be able to sell the sculpture to him. Recognizing what a long shot that was, he laughed at himself, even as he prayed.
The very next day, a vacuum cleaner salesman rang Sam’s doorbell. Against all previous practice, Sam invited the salesman in. While they chatted, the man noticed the partially completed sculpture. Impressed, he asked for a closer look, and Sam explained why he was doing it.
The salesman asked if he could come back to see the sculpture when it was finished. Thinking he had a sale on his hands, Sam asked the man if he wanted to buy it.
“I’ve got a better idea,” the man told Sam.
The salesman’s father was a barber, who cut Johnson’s hair every week.
After Johnson took the sculpture, a visiting news team saw it in his home. This led to Sam being interviewed, which brought him to the Phoenix Suns’ attention. This resulted in Sam presenting the sculpture to Johnson, and later doing the same for Tom Chambers, in a nationally televised awards ceremony.
Sam has also done sculpting for Arizona Cardinals NFL players. Sculpting athletes fits right in with how Sam prefers to work. He likes to sculpt muscular images, wings, wind, and transformational images, as well as angels.. His idea is to depict a greater self that can conquer fears.
Sam’s book, My Name Is Sam – Leaving the Amish, should be available by August, 2021.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my best friend was visiting I would take them to the best restaurant somewhere downtown and have an amazing healthy dinner. Then we would drive to Red Rocks for a concert.
During their stay I would take them to the mountains and do some exploring. While up there I would show them a house that I filmed some scenes at for the interior shots of the house my family lived in when we were Amish. I would explain why we filmed there and why we could not use the exterior of that house for my movie.
Then we would go hiking in the mountains and have lunch by a lake and just feel the mountain breeze on our faces and smell the woodsy mountain air.
If they enjoyed skiing we would do that as well. While in the mountains I would take them to a small town and show them a giant house I helped build that sits next to the lake. While in this small mountain town we would get some ice cream and then some full flavored rich coffee.
Then on the trip back to the city I would stop by the location of the house we filmed at as the exterior of the home my family lived in when we were Amish. I would explain why I used this house as the exterior home for my movie. Then we would go home and watch a good movie and probably take a nap.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Kasha Fauscett is a real Angel on earth.
Facebook: Search My Name Is Sam
Other: Click here to watch my movie trailer https://vimeo.com/386314821 Click here to watch my film in the United States https://www.amazon.com/dp/B084KJXDWJ Click here to watch my film in the UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/video/detail/B084KP5YWH/