Today we’d like to introduce you to Anita Silvestri.
Anita, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far
Like most artists I have always loved creating things, but it was chance that led me to find my calling as an artist. I was married with three children and living in a small town in Kansas when I was asked to take part in a federal program that brought reproductions of famous artworks into the public schools to help rural children with little or no access to art museums learn how to look at art. The program was not about memorizing the names of artists and identifying their works but instead looking at works and asking questions such as: why do you think the artist made this; what do you think the artist was trying to say?
How does this work make you feel? If you could move around through this painting would you walk, run, or dance; where would you start? The responses and questions of the children were so inspiring that I decided I needed to learn more. I enrolled in the local university in what I thought would be a class of lectures and found it to be instead a hands-on exploration into creating art. From the very first class I knew I had found my calling. I have been an artist now for over 40 years and have been working in mixed media collage for over 30 years.
Can you give our readers some background on your art?
We live in a world that bombards us with virtually instant images of natural and man-made disasters-wars, atrocities, diseases, droughts, floods, famines, earthquakes, tornadoes, fire, pollution of our air, land, and water-mixed with multiple conflicting solutions. My art explores our choices in that complex world.
Using collage, I can fix in place some of those constantly changing images. By overlapping, distorting, hiding and revealing common images from magazines, advertisements, and photos, I strive to create strange yet familiar landscapes inviting the viewer to focus on the questions and problems these images suggest. While specific images in my collages have symbolic meanings used to develop a metaphor, the intent is not for the art to have only one interpretation, nor to propose a single solution to problems in the world. Rather, by raising questions about the issues, I hope to open a dialogue between viewers and the artist.
Creating art is my way of understanding the world. Each collage develops around what I am reading, hearing, seeing, feeling during the two to three month period that I am working on it, and each has its own story or metaphor. But equally as important for me as the creation is exhibiting my art. I love talking to viewers when I show my work and hearing their interpretations as for me it adds another layer of meaning to the art. I don’t believe art lives just because it is created. It lives when it is seen, and viewers react to it.
Do you think conditions are generally improving for artists? What more can cities and communities do to improve conditions for artists?
It has always been difficult to make a living as an artist, but I think the cost of housing/work space in California has become an almost insurmountable obstacle for struggling artists today. Helping artists to be able to continue living in the cities would be the first step. Cities also need to look at their schools What can they do to foster curiosity and experimentation in the arts while also emphasizing that the successful artist must have discipline and business skills. Artists need opportunities to show their work and receive critical feedback and exposure. Financial support for galleries showing local artists’ work would allow more galleries to survive. Artists also need job opportunities that pay the rent while still allowing some time for creation. Creativity and innovation are valuable talents that artists have to offer employers.
What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I have just finished a solo show at the Riverside Art Museum and presently have work at the Riverside Community Art gallery. I live and work in the city of Riverside where my work can be seen by appointment in my studio. Work can also be seen on my website; silvestri-collage.com
Obviously people can support my work by purchasing it, but also by offering or suggesting exhibit spaces that I might consider. For my next project I am planning to produce a book of my work and would welcome suggestions from other artists on how they did this.