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 Pet Silvia  (1953 - )

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: multi-media sexuality themes

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Pet Silvia
An example of work by Pet Silvia
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Pet Silvia, (American, b. 1953), started out in the early 1970's as an Avant Garde multi-media performer working in cabaret venues and concerts. By the late 70's, he was drawing underground cartoons as part of the Newave Movement, mostly being published out of Berkeley, California.

After having secured a position at the Newark Public Library as a Photo Archivist, he began a series of photographs of inanimate objects, surreal street photos, and the nude. Some of these were first exhibited at the City Without Walls Gallery in Newark between 1982 & 1985, and at the Newark Library as well. He left Newark in 1985, to paint full time for a while in the countryside of northwest New Jersey.

Several years later, while working as manager of a reprographics firm in Morristown, he discovered, and fell in love with the xerographic process as an alternative photographic means. Through this process, in both color and black & white, images could be produced, reprocessed, manipulated, and utilized to make Art. His first Xerographic Paintings were exhibited at the Pleiades Gallery in New York City in 1988, with a subsequent solo exhibition there in 1990. While preparing for that show, some of the paintings were featured on MTV, along with an interview in his studio.

Though the model he used for ten years had occupied the bulk of his subject matter, it became clear that a new one was needed. After several others were tried, the timeless look that Silvia was striving for could not be captured as it was previously. Having no where else to turn, he began posing himself in front of the camera. It wasn't really a quest for self-portraiture, or ego satisfaction, but an experiment in duality, and then, pansexuality.

The first series of these radical new works were exhibited in 1993 in a show at the Ramapo College Art Gallery titled, Exploding The Figure. It has since become apparent to Silvia that his work with a pan-gendered model, who happens to be the Artist, using techniques on canvas with laser generated photographics and paint, and narrative themes of an often-time overt sexual nature, are not readily accepted by the art world. This accounts for the fact that Silvia's work has gone unnoticed, except for shows in quirky corners, and publication in scene periodicals.

The Musee National d'Art Moderne in Paris, The Rhode Island School of Design, and the MOMA Library in New York City, all have Silvia's work in their collections, contained in his numerous appearances in the I.S.C.A. Quarterly, which they subscribe to et al. Silvia has done commissioned work for Sony Entertainment, has appeared on national TV, exhibited across the US and Europe, and still does an occasional performance piece.

Recent exhibitions include, 2 Bodies at Sacred Body Art, Alt. Sex. Photo. at Hellfire, in New York City, The Camera and Representation at the CEPA Gallery in Buffalo, and Mailed Art for Amnesty International in Uppsala, Sweden. Anything For Love '95 in Columbus, Ohio, featured a solo exhibition of works from his mythology series, along with the show Fashion of the Gods, which Silvia wrote, directed, and portrayed Cupid. He was co-organizer and Creative Director of this event, which was billed as the First Annual Convention of Eroticism, and donated some of the proceeds to the Kaleidoscope Youth Coalition in Columbus, a halfway house for teens abandoned by their parents because of their sexual orientation.

Silvia is still his own model. Having finished the painting series Free TV Free, which goes through the personal story of how he arrived at, and continues on with his own sexuality, his current work deals with the feminine ideal as it relates to art, media and technology. This latest body of work is the Sex Object series. It incorporates photographs, found objects, mixed media, and cutouts of the artist/model as free-standing dimensional dolls. These reliefs on Plexiglas come full circle into the age-old question of what is Art, and what is pornography.

Currently Pet has gone digital, using the computer to print his images on a variety of media, including canvas, backlit film on Plexiglas, and Paper, using the medium as an extension of photography, as well as his website.

Silvia did a weekly cable TV show, the Malignant Muse, on the Manhattan Neighborhood Network for three years. It focused on unknown guest artists, while poking fun at those who are known. He also worked as curator for the Sacred Body Art Gallery on Canal Street in New York City, promoting the Extreme Artwork of underground New York.

He lives and works in Manhattan, and for a man in his forties, has the greatest pair of legs on the planet.


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