My work explores the concept of identity, both personal and cultural, by uniting images of traditional tribal masks and totems with contemporary portraits. The primal emotion embodied in totemic visages evokes a universal response. When combined with modern imagery, the formal and psychological aspects merge to create a narrative that questions one’s individuality, place in society and relationship with the past.
For me, each piece represents a scene from a modern folktale, the characters unable to separate themselves from the influence of the greater world and it’s tumultuous past. In this generation, where information can be gathered about any part of the world and it’s history in seconds, our own ethnic identity and past become less important as we increase our dialogue with other cultures. It becomes more difficult to stay insulated within one’s own community and avoid the influence of other peoples. I welcome this change and make no apologies for my use of imagery from cultures not my own. The challenge is to make it mine by viewing other cultures through my own reverse prism, taking disparate images and merging them into an innovative whole.
Deborah Silver is a native Clevelander. It was while attending the Cleveland Institute of Art that Deborah discovered her love of weaving, majoring in Fiber and minoring in Drawing.
After an internship with weaver Holly Kenny, Deborah learned the craft of antique furniture upholstery, then combined her skills to open her own business. She worked closely with interior designers, creating site-specific Fiber commissions for private residences, businesses and religious institutions.
Currently, Deborah designs and weaves pieces which combine tribal masks and totems with contemporary faces. Her works have been shown in juried exhibits in Chicago and NYC, and can presently be found at the Harris Stanton Gallery in Akron, Ohio.
Deborah is married to the painter, Patrick Haggerty, whom she met while they were both attending the Cleveland Institute of Art. They live happily in a home with too little wall space and too many cats in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
When not busy at her loom, Deborah passes the time as a Nuclear Medicine Technician.