Light painting artist Vicki DaSilva has been creating her images since 1980. In 1981, while she was an art student, Vicki spent the year in NYC working as an intern for video and performance artist Joan Jonas. Through Joan’s vast artist network Vicki began a ten-year personal assistant job with sculptor Richard Serra. The influences of Joan and Richard, along with the birth of Hip Hop and the fusion of graffiti and fine art that was primarily directed by Keith Haring (whom Vicki knew from his home town of Kutztown, PA, where she attended Kutztown University) was extremely influential in her art. Vicki has the honor of holding several light painting titles. She is the first female light painting artist and the first light painter to create “Text Light Graffiti”. Vicki has shot the majority of her work on film. She is known for her light graffiti work as well as her elaborate installation based light paintings. Vicki, along with her husband Antonio, (whom she met while on a light painting trip to Paris) use 4 and 8-foot fluorescent bulbs attached to a complex system of tracks and pulleys to create her work. The enormous amount of time and effort it takes for her just to set up her light painting installation work, and then the fact that she shoots it all on film is incredible. In the 1990’s Vicki took some time off to be a full time mom, in 1999 she began light painting again full time and has not stopped since. Vicki can be found roaming the dark streets of New York City where she often travels to create her light painting work. She now lives in Pennsylvania and continues to promote, progress, and create light painting photography. Vicki started shooting digital in 2008 but she also continues to shoot chrome film. View some of her images below, read Vicki’s full light painting photography interview below and for even more information check out Vicki’s websites LightGraffiti.com and VickiDaSilva.com.
Light Painting Photography Interview With Artist Vicki DaSilva
Interview conducted by Jason D. Page in 2011
1. What is your name? Vicki DaSilva
2. Do you have an alias that you go by? Fountain of Youth; FOY
3. Are you a soloist or are you part of a Light Painting group? If a group who is in your group? Soloist as light painter but partner with Antonio DaSilva who is the technical director of our team.
4. What education do you have? BFA, Kutztown University, MFA, School of Hard Knocks
5. What is your occupation? Artist
6. How long have you been a photographer? Since 1978
7. How long have you been light painting? Since 1980
8. How did you discover Light Painting Photography? While studying photography in art school and seeing Man Ray’s work as well as Gjon Mili’s.
9. What was your first Light Painting Image? A portrait of my mom & dad in their back yard, 1980.
10. Film or Digital? Film from 1980-2008, film and digital 2008-present.
11. Do you believe in aliens? Not sure.
12. What is your standard Light Painting Photography setup? There is no standard, only upward.
13. What is your favorite color? Black as night.
14. Who influences your Light Painting Photography work? At the moment regarding light graffiti: Banksy.
15. Who is your favorite Light Painting Artist? Me.
16. What is your favorite food? Kumamoto oysters.
17. Do you create in any other mediums other than light painting? If so what are they? Yes. Drawing. It’s all about drawing.
18. What is your favorite Light Painting Photography image that you have created? Space Hugger, 2010
19. What is your favorite Light Painting Photography image of another artist? Alba Clemente, 1995 by Dean Chamberlain.
20. What is the most difficult part of Light Painting Photography? Making art that is historically significant when put into the context of contemporary art.
21. How do you get your Light Painting Photography work seen? By every means necessary.
22. Do you sell your Light Painting Photography work? Yes.
23. Are you represented by a gallery? I show with various galleries but do not have exclusive representation.
25. What is your favorite quote? War is over (If you want it) John Lennon & Yoko Ono
26. Who is your favorite artist? Dan Flavin, James Turrell and Banksy are all tied for first place.
27. What is your favorite activity other than light painting? ☺ ‘Family business’ with Antonio, my Portuguese Love Stud.
28. Tell me a good light painting story. May, 2010, Cape Breton Island, Chimney Corner Beach. Beautiful night. A man rolls up in a pickup, gets out and asks us what is going on. He is clearly angry, suspicious and wearing a holster carrying a gun. We tell him we’re doing ‘light painting photography’ and he says, ‘I will not have signaling of drug boats here on my property.’ And we’re trying not to laugh! We get the brochure, verify a photo in the camera we just completed and we all have a great laugh!
29. Tell me a nightmare light painting story. During ‘Light Tartans: Fountain Park,’ 2006 we were 2 hours in on a single shot when the cops rolled up and shined their mega search lights from their cruisers into the shot and seriously overexposed the shot and rendered it unusable.
30. Have you ever been arrested or ticketed for light painting? No. I usually get permission and permits when necessary.
31. What do you say to people when they see you light painting and they ask “what the hell are you doing”? I say ‘we’re making ART using light painting photography!!’ I also always have a brochure to show samples of the finished product.
32. Where do you find inspiration for your Light Painting Photography? Art history, contemporary art, news & pop culture.
33. Who would you like to punch? No one.
34. Who would you like to kiss? Antonio, my love.
35. Why do you Light Paint? Because it is my artistic fate.
36. What is your favorite time to shoot? After midnight.
37. What is your favorite subject to shoot? light graffiti commentary on pop culture.
38. Where is your favorite place to shoot? The streets of NYC.
39. If you could travel anywhere to Light Paint where would you go? Jupiter, to add a few rings!
40. Have you ever invented a Light Painting Photography tool? If so what was it and how did it work? Antonio makes all the tools. They are all fluorescent lamps made portable. We prefer the lumens of fluorescents.
41. Do you ever get sick of explaining your work to people? No. All artists explain their work regardless of medium.
42. How many times have you heard the word Photoshop when someone was describing or asking about your work? It’s understandably the assumption but provides the opportunity to explain the process, which therefore inevitably elevates the interest and appreciation of light painting photography.
43. What makes you happy? Having a family and being an artist all at the same time. I am grateful for their love & support of my work, especially Antonio, as he is my technical director supreme and we have been collaborating since 1988.
44. What makes you mad? The lack of urgent, radical, global clean energy policy changes necessary to save the planet and human life.
45. What part of Light Painting Photography do you enjoy the most? The challenge of using the medium to make important contemporary art that is ultimately historically significant.
46. What part of Light Painting Photography do you hate the most? No hate, all love!
48. What is Light Painting Photography? A technique of recording the movement of light through the photographic process.
49. Give me some advice for anyone that might like to try Light Painting Photography. Practice makes perfect.
50. Are you scared of the dark? No, as I always have a plethora of lamps readily available.