Like all women, She walks in uncomfortable shoes- Silvia Levenson

Silvia Levenson is a visual artist and political activist born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1957. When the military took control of the Argentine government in 1976, Levenson immigrated with her family and children to Italy and has lived there ever since. She has a background in painting and graphic design but is mostly known for her use of glass and kiln forming. She uses glass as a narrative medium, tackling subjects such as domesticity, travel, exile, human relationships, and womanhood. For her, glass is a useful medium to reveal the ambiguity of human relationships, the painful truths in them that are either unseen or that we would prefer not to see, and she reveals them by recreating mundane objects such as sofas, kettles, perfume bottles and even pink grenades out of a medium that can be both easily broken and is routinely used to protect, separate, and hold other objects. She constantly combines it with mixed media and text.

Her early life and background had a major influence on her first works. In 1995, while serving an artist residency at Bullseye Glass Co., Levenson created her piece It’s Raining Knives for her first U.S. exhibition. The juxtaposition of the colourful tiny glass homes on a bright green lawn with the achromatic, jagged glass knives hanging overhead awaken the fear and paranoia that characterised the 70s and 80s in Levenson’s home region, as many Latin American governments became dictatorships and their countries soon became embroiled in bloody civil wars. Levenson herself was personally affected, a cousin and an aunt were victims of the Argentine government’s efforts to kill and disappear anyone who opposed them.

“Identidad Desaparecida” (2016). Glass Museum, Murano, Photo by Paolo Sacchi

Levenson has said that she dislikes the idea of virtuosity in art. Feeling, pathos, and intuitions are the foundation of her work. For another project inspired by Argentina’s painful truths, Missing Identity, she created baby clothes from glass and once again utilised imagery like her glass knives. Eventually, the dictatorship ended and there were efforts to bring justice to those who suffered under it, but the gaping hole the victims left in their family members’ hearts remained.

“Happy forever” (2010). Kilnformed glass. Collection Bellini