LeAnne Martin
Christians in the Arts

Monday, February 04, 2008

John Silvis: Capturing Moments

Photographer John Silvis is director of NYCAMS (http://www.nycams.bethel.edu/), the New York Center for Art and Media Studies, an arts residency of Bethel University in St. Paul, MN (www.bethel.edu). John has an MFA from the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and a BA in Studio Art from Bethel University. To see some of John’s work, go to http://nycams.bethel.edu/silvis.html.

LeAnne: Tell me about your photography. Have you always been drawn to it? Why?

John: Photography has been second nature for me since my twelvth birthday when I received my first camera from my father. During high school, I learnt how to develop and print black and white film, and then continued developing my technical skills and conceptual work in my undergraduate studies. Capturing a certain moment and the possibility of creating a composition with light and form continue to fascinate me.

LM: What are you working on right now?

Since 2004, I have turned my focus from traditional portraiture to the automobile and our relationship to it. I have been making collages, combining Polaroids and magazine images of cars, setting up environments with car models and photographing cars in motion. What interests me is what they represent as cultural signifiers and how they shape our identity. For most people they hold memories and ideas that are unique to our post-industrial era.

LM: You've got a long list of awards and grants, exhibitions and collections. What has been the most exciting highlight of your career so far?

The most challenging and exciting exhibition of my career was the family series I exhibited at the Essl Collection Vienna in 2001, as a part of their emerging artists series. That exhibit was exciting because I was able to work on a large project and have it seen by a lot of people in the art world. The opening was a great opportunity to meet people and talk about the work. At the opening, I also did a performance piece with a Swiss artist, Daniel Ashwanden. It included video, pre-recorded sound, objects, but was mostly improvised.

More from John on Thursday.

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