Vicki DaSilva

Vicki DaSilva is a light painting photography pioneer since 1980. She makes single frame time exposure photographs shot at night, live on location by drawing with lamps. These images are made possible through processes of recording that are unique to photography. The execution time varies in duration from minutes to hours per photograph. Each work is a response to the here-and-now.

Using open, empty spaces, interior or exterior, as her framework, DaSilva expands on a technique that began in France in 1889 in Étienne-Jules Marey’s scientific laboratory studying human physiology. Marey collaborated with student Georges Demeny who attached incandescent bulbs to the joints of an assistant and created the first known light painting photograph. In 1914 Frank Gilbreth, along with his wife Lillian Moller Gilbreth, used small lights and the open shutter of a camera to track the motion of manufacturing and clerical workers. Man Ray was the first artist in 1935 to use light painting in his Space Writing-series. In 1949 Picasso collaborated with LIFE photographer, Gjon Mili, to create a series of light drawing photographs.

DaSilva is the first artist to dedicate her entire art career exclusively to light painting photography. She has taken the medium of light painting from the urban streets to rural landscapes, from interiors to exteriors. She renders both abstraction and text-based imagery. Roddie’s Rock (2012) portrays tall white swivels that fill and define a beach landscape whereas Jasmine/Never Sorry (for Ai Weiwei) made in 2011 features repetitive text in reference to Ai Weiwei’s detainment in China and the documentary film by Alison Klayman. Anchored firmly in the moment, DaSilva’s art contributes to the expanding global reach that light graffiti and light painting now has in art and photography communities around the world.

By integrating the documentation of performance with photography and video, DaSilva’s most recent accolade is having been selected as the solo grand prize winner of Art Takes Times Square, a competition of over 35,000 artists presented by Artists Wanted in Times Square, New York City on June 18, 2012. DaSilva immediately seized the art moment by making the new photograph and video FOY (2012) that stamps her signature light graffiti tag FOY (Fountain of Youth) in Manhattan’s most iconic site.

DaSilva is the first artist to write text with light painting photography, and is credited with the term  ‘light graffiti’ dating back to her photograph Cash from 1980. She is also the first artist to use four and eight foot fluorescent lamps with the technique beginning in 1987. DaSilva makes her work local, vibrant and contemporary. In 2009 the artist received authorization by the General Services Administration for site-specific work in New York City’s Federal Plaza to make a homage piece to Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc. In 2011 her work was featured in Reebok’s Miami Lites Up project. The Bring to Light 2011 festival in Greenpoint, Brooklyn also featured her work.  DaSilva will be exhibiting at Fountain Art Fair NYC in 2013 and will be a featured artist at Snap! Orlando in May.

Contact DaSilva at her website.


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Vicki DaSilva | 2011 | DaSilva