Searching for the Big Reveal: The Work of Emily Silver
DESERT Magazine, April 2019
Seven years ago, Yucca Valley artist Emily Silver visited the high desert for the first time. Almost immediately, she felt a connection with the area. After living in big cities for most of her life, from Albany to New York City to Los Angeles, a quieter, more rural existence was calling her. Over the next four years, she slowly moved her life from the city to the desert full-time, finding a home, transferring her art studio from Los Angeles, and helping her husband, producer Charlie Stavish, build a recording studio, The Clock Tower Recorder.
Since then, Silver has made a name for herself as an artist in various mediums, including drawing, sculpture and animation, usually combining all of these approaches at once. Her creative process is an exercise in chaos, as Silver throws everything she has into her work, sometimes literally.
“My artistic process is all over the place,” she said. “I tend to work on multiple projects at once and I have a hard time concentrating on one thing, so it helps for me to set up my studio in stations.”
Silver’s art studio is broken up into specific spots, including a sculptural area, a painting area, a blank wall for brainstorming and a place she calls “the break shit area”. Silver uses discarded objects in some of her work, from old beer cans and broken pieces of sculpture, to paper mache and layers of paint. She also creates paper collages and animation, some of which she posts on her Instagram page. But just recently, she decided to throw out most of her work and rethink everything.
“I’m honestly in the middle of a big creative change,” she said, “and it’s pretty raw and vulnerable at the moment. As my life has shifted, so has my practice. I think I am in this holding pattern right now, where I am trying to listen to this inner monologue and trust the new direction.”
Silver is inspired by both the tragic and the comedic, the marriage of humor and terror that births the absurd. She now believes the desert is revealing something new, even if she doesn’t know exactly what it is just yet.
“I feel that the desert is revealing new work to me,” she said, “both new ideas and a new way of listening to myself.”
In addition to her art, Silver collaborates with artist Stephanie Digregrio to curate shows at their Unpaved Gallery, an art gallery held in a storage container that opened in January of 2019. The 40-foot-long storage container was converted into a clean exhibition space. The pair hope to have around six shows a year, focused primarily on solo shows and guest curators.
A current show highlights the work of Kim Stringfellow’s Mojave Project, a documentary project that, according to the website, “explores physical, geological and cultural landscape of the Mojave Desert” (the show runs until April 21st). An upcoming show will focus on the mixed-media work of Kyla Hansen (from May 4th to June 15th).
“The mission [of the gallery] is to bring art to the desert that we don’t normally get to see here,” she said. “The goal is to help create a larger dialogue around work being made today, as well as offering other artists an opportunity to show their work.”
Silver’s talents extend to podcasting, too. Her show, entitled Curate Joshua Tree, highlights high desert artists and their work.
“The podcast has been such a great project and it helped push us to open the gallery,” she said. “I felt like I wanted to contribute to the larger community and create an oral history of what is being made here and who is making it.”
Silver has extended her podcast to include not only visual artists, but musicians cycling through her husband’s recording studio. Now in its fourth year, Silver was “shocked” at how many people followed the podcast on Instagram and iTunes, and the response has inspired her to continue.
“The response to the podcast reinforced to me that this community is full of love and support for creative endeavors,” she said.
To see Emily Silver’s work, check out her Instagram page @emilysilverstudio. Her studio’s website information can be found at https://www.unpavedgallery.com