Featured Artist: Rachel M Silva
In her series Super Bloom, Los Angeles-based artist Rachel M Silva explores anxiety and what that looks like for her and the women in her life. Coping with anxiety and panic attacks for years, much of her creative work is inspired by these experiences. Rachel's work explores mental health using vivid and bright colours to capture hope; beyond the moments of anxiety, there's so much joy and happiness to celebrate. We are not our anxieties.
We’d love to learn a little bit more about you.
I’ve been an artist my entire life. I inherited an obsession with the 60s and 70s from my dad and my art genes from my mom, who was my first art teacher. I try to be in nature as much as possible and have been known to cry when I see woodland creatures. I studied animation and illustration at San Jose State University for about four years before deciding that pursuing a degree wasn’t a good fit for me. I think a cross-section of my brain would look like a jumble of flowers, spaceships, crystals, the One Ring of Power, and eleven seasons of Frasier.
Where does your work pull inspiration from?
Emotionally a lot of my inspiration is pulled from coping with anxiety. I struggle with anxiety and panic attacks and its something that I’ve battled with for years. It constantly drives my work, whether its me needing to say something about anxiety, or getting lost in a rendering to help calm my nerves. Visually I pull inspiration from the psychedelic art and styles from the 60’s and 70’s, which I’ve always been naturally drawn to.
Tell us about this series of women. Who are they, and what do these drawings capture?
This series of women started as representations of specific anxieties that have plagued me at some time or other, but it has branched out and become more about anxieties that everyone faces. “Comforted” is a self portrait and I intended to capture the sensation of feeling like I am so much more than my anxiety, but not knowing how to break out of this shrouded feeling of being trapped by a self-established “comfort zone”. The models for “Nested”, “Honey Honey”, and “Lucy” are friends of mine who also battle with anxiety and depression. “Nested” is about the fear that comes with moving away from family, becoming independent. “Honey Honey” and “Lucy” deal with sexual and romantic anxiety. A lot of what I hope to capture is that idea that our anxiety is not who we are. I’ve found that people who battle with anxiety and depression have the ability to feel joy and inspiration just as intensely as they may feel the rush of a panic attack. I think that’s why I’m drawn to using these intense colors to make pieces about mental health.
What does being a woman artist mean to you?
To me the most rewarding and important thing I can do as a woman artist is to be encouraging and supportive of other women. It really pains me to hear women talk negatively about themselves, whether its physically or lacking overall confidence. If my work can have some amount of positive impact on one person, even if its just my model for a specific piece, then I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. Being a woman artist means that I have a way to encourage other women, artists or not.