Studio Visit: Lesley Silvia
Lesley Silvia always seems to have an incredibly ambitious art project in progress in her home studio in Casselberry. The artist moves between multiple mediums in her explorations of identity, perceived hysteria, mental illness, and dysfunction in human connection, creating large-scale plaster sculptures, intimate 2D paintings and cut paper, as well as time-based video and sound works, and projects based in relational aesthetics. Reminiscent of contemporary artist Kiki Smith, Silvia frequently chooses animals as one focus of her subject matter— a cat with two bodies, a wolf with two heads, a fox with three heads— using them as empathetic analogies for amplified and distorted human characteristics and emotions. The resulting works are uncanny and striking manifestations of the anxieties of identity, which seem to draw from some universal anima and animus of our collective unconscious.
Frequently, Silvia’s sculptures and larger works begin as simple pencil sketches in a personal sketchbook, which she translates expertly into 3D, using a variety of traditional and non-traditional materials, including taxidermy supplies. While her work is conceptually driven, Silvia is equally committed to craft and expression, her own hand and skill visible across the many diverse disciplines she invokes in her practice.
Having recently graduated from Pacific Northwest College of Art with her master’s degree in studio art in mid-2016, Silvia has carried the momentum of her thesis show That’s Hysterical! into a flurry of local exhibitions and appearances. In September of 2016, she participated in Art In Odd Places Orlando, an outdoor contemporary art festival, working with her husband Jared Sylvia on Rhizomatic Sounds. Sounds was an interactive installation that allowed participants to experience hearing spontaneously generated sentences in an unexpected location— right outside the Orlando Public Library downtown! More recently, Silvia’s work has graced the walls and spaces of a number of beloved local establishments, her delicate paper cut outs framed and displayed at Redlight Redlight, and her large, plaster sculptures and a video at Gallery at Avalon Island as part of the Artborne Annual group exhibition.
Things haven’t slowed down for Lesley Silvia in 2017. In the past several weeks, she has worked tirelessly creating new work for the FLAME group show at Orange Studio, curated by Winston Taitt, which opens on February 16th. She is also currently working on her addition to the new Sam Flax wall mural project, accompanied by contributions by artists Boy Kong, Chaya Av, Chris McAlister, Danny Rock, Jack Void, and SKIP. Be sure to check it out next time you are at Sam Flax! If you keep track of what Lesley Silvia is up to, chances are you’ll get a good introduction to all the best art that is happening in Orlando.