Bridging the physical and the digital: Debora Silva

Originally trained as a physical sculptor, Debora Silva’s digital works bridge the two domains. Occupying this slipstream has granted Debora increased liberation and freedom in her work, opening up her eyes to infinite opportunities. Sharing her passion and excitement about her work with Chimera, Debora’s optimism for the future of the artworld is inspiring.

To kick things off, how would you describe your art in just three words?

Feminine, individual, sculptural.

What originally drew you to working with the female form? I love the way that most of your work, especially the jewellery you’ve just been making engages with the pure female form.

I guess that's what I know the most, that's what I touch the most. If I sculpt from memory, I always use my own body as a reference. So there's a lot of intimate characters that I see in myself, mainly all of them are portraits of myself. But also there are other people that I have touched or that I have looked at, or that I pay attention to. For some reason, they're always female. And I think it's because I want to say something to them. This all comes from my own experience, of me and my sisters, my contemporaries. Those are the bodies that I can speak for.

Your work seems to adopt an extra dimension in being so intimately connected to your personal experiences. What first inspired you to become an artist? Have you always been interested in art? Or was there a specific moment where you just knew that this was what you were going to do?

I think it is the only thing I know. I think I was born an artist and there isn’t anything else in this world that I can imagine myself doing. Sculpting and modelling are what I do in this world. Anything else that I do is because I absolutely need to. Everyone has something that they really like doing, everyone has a talent.

I was always drawn to sculpture. I think that has to do with my background a little. This has heavily inspired my work as well because I'm from a tiny village in Portugal and I come from a Catholic background. I'm not a Catholic anymore but I was raised and born into it. There is a lot of sculptures that arose from that period and lots of sculpture in Catholic churches where I lived. They're very charismatic and formatic in shape. They're also kind of ridiculous in a way, I like to look at them. And they're also very literal in the way they express love or pain or fear. They're very theatrical. I like that. I like that dramatic look.

Do you have a specific artist who was a big influence on you, as well as these dramatic sculptures that surrounded you when you were growing up?

To be honest, I try to run away from other artists because I'm always scared that they will stick heavily with me and that I'm just going to end up recreating them.

But I do love to look at other people's work. I think the inspiration for me just comes from talking to people or, like a lot of artists, inspired by life itself. But I really try not to do sessions of just looking at other artists. When I’m blocked about what to make, I just decide to walk away and do some admin work or do other things, rather than just trying to look at other people’s work.

Do you think that the coronavirus pandemic has affected your inspiration? Has it made it harder to find inspiration?

Not really. I don't think my life changed that much due to the pandemic. Because I'm already a freelancer, I already work from home, I spend a lot of time alone anyway. So my life didn't change drastically. There's always something to work with; the inspiration is all around us. Nowadays I a little bit less happy. But I also think I just get inspired by a lot of different things. So I don't think the pandemic really affected me in that way. 2020 was great and I hope 2021 is the same.

I’ll toast to that! What are you working on right now? What are your plans for 2021?

So in 2021, I have some exhibitions I am working on at the moment. I'm really interested in the fact that in 2021 there are so many projects around digital art and digital artists featuring in exhibitions online. I’m also so excited by the growth of cryptocurrency. I think it's a great year for digital artists.

It sounds very exciting. What do you think the future holds for digital art? Do you have any predictions for this year?

Jewellery by Débora Silva, 2020

Well, I guess that because of the pandemic, everything has just been turning digital. Art especially has been bringing attention to the digital world, which is just amazing. I'm as curious as everyone else, I guess because it seems like things are slowly unfolding.

But I like to believe that this is all going to unfold in the next few years. Because of this pandemic, I think it's like, in the middle of calamity and unfortunate times, there are some things that are changing. I just try to see positivity in the middle of such bad times.

I really like that I don’t rely on galleries anymore. I really like the fact that I’m an artist, and I have my own platforms, and I have my own audience. People approach me if they want to work with me. The art world was not the same as it is now a couple of years ago. It means that artists can really produce their own work and navigate through all of these new platforms to find audiences. They can try to engage with people that are really interested in their work. I really like the fact that art has been democratised in this way.

Follow Nicole on her Instagram@nicole.kitsberg