Chris SilvaChristopher Tavares Silva is a multi-medium artist currently residing in Chicago. Artistically speaking he “seeks opportunities in accidents, enjoys unusual combinations of materials, the unpredictable outcomes of collaboration and the general adventure of the creative process”. Educated at the American Academy of Art, where he studied fine art, he see’s art as a way of thinking and acting in the world rather than as a stylistic or material practice.

Puerto Rican born, Chris has spent the majority of his life in Chicago where his artistic career began. Kick started in the beginning with a passion for graffiti writing and street art, Chris is now better known in the Chicago district for his mural and public art commissions.

1. What would you say is the most important theme in your work?
That would definitely be love – but not so much romantic love. That gets enough airplay for me. I’m more interested in what is often referred to as ‘brotherly love’ and hope to somehow encourage people see the benefit of widening their circles of compassion and care not only to all of humankind, but to everything in life – plants, animals, the environment, etc. It seems to me that most of the fucked up situations in the world are essentially due to a lack of love.

It’s obviously an incredible challenge and I’m by no means a living Bhudda/Christ figure providing a flawless example of unconditional love. I have insecurities and weaknesses which get in the way of that practice, but they’ve never proven to be beneficial. That’s heavy sounding stuff which I’m totally sincere about, but I also enjoy employing a healthy sense of absurdity and humour in my life.

If there’s anything that makes coping with an insanely dysfunctional world easier (without resorting to heroin use) it’s laughter. My favourite artists areTrey Parker & Matt Stone…and the writers of The Onion. They shed light on the stupidity of things in such a hilarious and smart way.

2. What’s most inspiring to your working process?
Good sounds. I need to do some amount of creating music or else I get antsy. Then if it’s visual art that I’m making, I need to be listening to music that I like. As far as the visual art process goes, I mostly enjoy arranging, composing and noticing the effects different colors, values and textures have on each other. I love weathered, decayed highly textured man-made objects and the process of finding that stuff is fun too. I also prefer collaborating with my friends to working alone. The artist alone in the studio lifestyle can be fun in moderation, but I would never choose it over working with other folks. In my opinion life is too short to spend that much time alone.

3. Have you any strange talents that influence the work you produce or the way you produce it?
Strange talents, hmm… I guess the need to do something well if I’m going to do it at all plays a strong role in my work. I’m not great at starting things but once I get going I really don’t like doing things half-assed. I don’t draw obsessively like lots of artists do, so I’m just about always rusty in that department and it takes a while for me to work things out. That ability to commit and work it out until it’s resolved is what I count on. I think I might be good at making effective use of minimal resources too. Kind of like MacGyver!

Chris Silva 4. Which artist of the past would you resurrect to collaborate with and why?
The first artist that came to mind was Roberto Matta and I had to Google him to make sure he was dead. He died 8 years ago – lucky me! So yeah, that guy. Let’s get him resurrected. His work has this really attractive balance of the tangible, rich & raw physicality of well made objects mixed with a sort of mysterious psychological/spiritual energy.

It really relates inner and outer or “mind, body & soul” in a way that I’ve always wanted to do myself. Wait, is Hundertwasser still alive? Can I change my answer? He really changed my thinking about art. He seemed like a more fun guy than Matta. Yeah, screw Matta. That guy’s a turd!

5. Do you think your work is understood or misinterpreted and why?
I’m sure it often is, but in this information saturated world that’s to be expected. It would be arrogant to expect everyone to be concerned enough with me to get it. Also, I don’t usually create things that are extremely literal. I’m more inclined to produce things that operate in a vague kind of poetic space. So my approach has been to clearly articulate my intentions in my artist statement. Hopefully that creates enough of a filter for viewers to perceive my artwork through and then the artwork is free to suggest a multitude of meanings within that broad framework. Of course everybody hasn’t read my artist statement before experiencing my artwork, and even if they have it’s still my responsibility to infuse the creations with some kind of energy that resonates well with people without that info. Overall I’m just hoping for some kind of brand recognition. Something like, “Oh, Chris Silva made this? He really wants people to stop being assholes to each other. We should buy this. Maybe it will help.” But being that I really need to keep my bills paid I’ll be happy with, “That guy is a starry-eyed moron – but this is pretty! We should buy this!”.

6. If you could decorate one place in the world what would it be and how would you do it?
That would be our home and I would do it at my leisure because the bills would magically be paid without us having to do anything. I don’t know exactly how it would look, but it would be a crazy mixed-media wonderland. The home would be sort of an ongoing sculpture in progress. It would be fully solar and designed to maximize the use of water. Half of it would consist of garden elements. We’d have a couple llamas too. Wait a minute – I’m on to you now. You’re going to surprise us with a grant to make this all happen aren’t you? You little rascal!

Chris Silva 7. What to date has been your ‘cherry on the cake’ moment and what was it that got you there?
There’s so many moments that come to mind and they’re all from road trips with Lauren. We love camping and whenever we’re able to convince ourselves that we’ve earned an escape we try to break out and experience those moments in beautiful natural settings where it’s so easy to let the stress of having to earn a living melt away. Enjoying good food and drink around a camp fire while watching a beautiful sky with your loved ones…that’s the good life to me. We got married in New Mexico on one of those trips. That could be seen as the major cherry but it all feels like one continuing string of cherries somehow. What was it that got me to those moments? A Toyota Corolla, once a Honda Insight, most recently a Subaru Forester and primarily a desperate desire to maintain my sanity.

8. What we ask everyone! Does your artistic style influence your underwear?
I’m not certain. Maybe? Do photo-realistic painters wear tighty whiteys? Because I sure don’t. But I don’t wear loose fitting abstract upcycled junk collage underwear either. Not strictly anyway. I do get a strange sense of satisfaction if I notice that my boxers go well with whatever t-shirt I’m wearing. Like, “Oh shit – this is a smooth outfit!” That could be a side effect of growing up wearing Underoos. Do those still exist?

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Artwork courtesy © Chris Silva