Light Painting Photography and Light Graffiti pioneer Vicki DaSilva has been killing it lately, winning the MEGA Artist Wanted international photo competition and getting massive exposure. I got the chance to catch up with Vicki after she got a chance to catch her breath! I asked her a few questions about how it all happened and whats next.
LPP ∇ Congratulations on your NYC Times Square showing of your work! Can you tell me a little bit about how it happened?
VD ∇ I entered the Artists Wanted online competition Art Takes Times Square and my work was chosen as the solo Grand Prize Winner out of 35,000 entrees.
LPP ∇ How did it work? I know this was thru Artist Wanted but you said you didn’t have to go thru the online voting process and that a panel of judges picked your work to go through?
VD ∇ Anyone could pay $25 to bypass the minimum votes needed to enable one to get to the first round of judging by the panel from Artists Wanted and chashama, the two major organizations sponsoring the competition. My work continued through all the judging stages and eventually became the chosen Grand Prize winner.
LPP ∇ How did you find out you got picked as the winner out of some thirty thousand or so artists that had entered?
VD ∇ I got a call on my cell on June 1st that I did not answer as I did not recognize the number. Then I got a text from the same number from William Etundi Jr. Founder / Creative Director of Artists Wanted saying he had some questions about my submission and to please contact him ASAP. I was in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada at the time on our last day of vacation. I called back from my landline and he began by asking if I was calling from Nova Scotia and when would I return. I said I was returning the next day, which I was. He then began to tell me how much the team at Artists Wanted and chashama loved my work. He said they looked at everything on my site, on my youtube channel, and did lots of other research about my work. I am sure they looked at lightpaintingphotography.com too! He then said they especially liked my work with social & political messages. He said Jasmine/Never Sorry (for Ai Weiwei) was his favorite piece. He then asked me to hold on as the entire Artists Wanted team was there together and they had something to tell me. Then I heard a loud, collective ‘CONGRATULATIONS VICKI’! Will proceeded to tell me that I was the solo Grand Prize Winner! I was screaming and freaking out! My dogs were barking! Antonio was in the basement yelling ‘WHAT IS GOING ON???’ It was hilarious!
LPP ∇ What did you do to celebrate?
VD ∇ We very conveniently had one last cold bottle of champagne in the fridge and we ran to the beach in a light rain and popped the cork! We laughed, we cried, we danced..it was GREAT! Antonio and I have been a team for 25 years in life and art, so this was a true storybook moment. We will never stop celebrating this moment!! My Sinatra, Jay-Z, New York, NY moment!!
LPP ∇ I know you have done plenty of art shows and the standard stuff to get your work seen but this had to be the biggest single shot of mass exposure you have had to date, did you lose your mind when it all set in?
VD ∇ Actually, no. I have been waiting for this moment my entire career. I was ready for everything that would unfold with the event and the publicity from this incredible opportunity that I am extremely grateful to have! The first thing I said to Will was, ‘As soon as I get back I will go to Times Square and make a piece!’ And at 4:00am on Sunday, June 10th I made FOY (Fountain of Youth) Times Square. The greatest mass exposure for an artist, besides the Times Square displays, was being published in the New York Times! THAT was what really blew my mind as my photo got 1/2 page COVER of the Arts section! I had never once been mentioned in the NYT and there was my photo 1/2 page on the COVER of the Arts!! AMAZING!!!
LPP ∇ When did it all sink in, That you Ms. DaSilva, a light painting photographer, has her work on a 23 story billboard in Times Square?
VD ∇ It sank in when I went for the sound check at 3:00pm the day of the event. The first test of the images appeared on the Nasdaq & Thomson Reuters boards and I stood gasping for air and jumping up and down! Then the event and party on June 18th was OFF THE HOOK! I hung with Questlove of the Roots/Jimmy Fallon Show and we partied all night! I even made new work at the party upstairs in a raw empty space that was projected during the party! Now is the time to crank it up, not sit back and relax! Pressure is on!! And it’s ALL GOOD!
LPP ∇ How long did your work remain up?
VD ∇ It was initially displayed on the Nasdaq, Port Authority and CNN Clear Channel 47th Street boards for 2 weeks. A 30 second excerpt of the video showing me making Jasmine/Never Sorry (for Ai Weiwei) along with the still photo played 20 times an hour. Then, incredibly, a second, brighter opportunity happened! Artists Wanted and chashama put together an expanded version of the displays through the Times Square Advertising Coalition and Times Square Arts in their newly launched Times Square Moment: Digital Art Gallery. A 45 second excerpt of the same work, along with two other Artists Wanted artists, Surabhi Saraf and Elly Cho, is appearing every night for the entire month of July at 11:57pm on ALL these boards simultaneously!!! It’s absolutely incredible!!!
3 Times Square, Seventh Avenue between 42nd & 43rd Street
4 Times Square, Broadway between 42nd & 43rd Street
1500 Broadway at 44th Street
MTV 44 1/2
1530 Broadway between 44th & 45th Street
Viacom North & South
1515 Broadway between 44th & 45th Street
Bank of America
1535 Broadway at 46th Street, SW corner
1540 Broadway between 45th & 46th Street
American Eagle Times Square
1551 Broadway at 46th Street, NW corner
Clear Channel Spectacolor HD128
1560 Broadway between 46 & 47th Street
Clear Channel Spectacolor HD129 / Times Square Visitor Center Marquee
1560 Broadway between 46 & 47th Street
Times Square Visitor Center
1560 Broadway between 46 & 47th Street
Clear Channel Spectacolor HD127 / CNN Screen
1567 Broadway at 47th Street
LPP ∇ Holy sh*t thats a lot….Can you tell me a little bit about what was behind the image that was displayed? Its called “Never Sorry” correct?
VD ∇ The title is ‘Jasmine/Never Sorry (for Ai Weiwei)’. It references several events and topics starting with the well-known artist and the documentary film releasing July 27th by Alison Klayman titled Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, the first feature-length film about the internationally renowned Chinese artist and activist. As graffiti has at its core an authority defiant driven motivation, my idea was to cover the two walls with the words ‘never sorry’ using a pale yellow lamp to reference the color of the Jasmine flower and the Jasmine Revolution of 2011. Ai Weiwei posted a tweet on Twitter February 24, 2011 saying: “I didn’t care about jasmine at first, but people who are scared by jasmine sent out information about how harmful jasmine is… which makes me realize that jasmine is what scares them the most.” While making this work in the dark I thought very intensely about his detention, interrogation and suspected abuse and torture. He was detained on April 3, 2011 for 81 days. I made the photo two weeks later. He was released on June 22, 2011, the day before the opening of my solo show, REVERB, in NYC where I was showing this work for the first time. It is my most important piece to date as it speaks to the issue of human rights through the association to Ai Weiwei and Alison’s film.
LPP ∇ Im sure you made some killer connections with this mass exposure, anything else in the works you would like to mention?
VD ∇ I have started a new series titled, ‘Anthropocene’ referencing the geological epoch we are currently in. There are multiple projects I am interested in and many various organizations I hope to work with in the future. I hope to create coordinated light graffiti text projects with social and political messages through willing global light painting volunteer participants. I also have an idea for a project called ‘Google Global Light Walk’ that would involve possibly hundreds of coordinated participants in major cities around the world all walking with 8 foot fluorescent lamps held above their heads while the satellite camera takes a time exposure. Just a little something I would like to accomplish.
LPP ∇ Seriously that would be insane….You are one of the light painting pioneers, You started your light drawing/light graffiti/light painting work back in 1980 did you ever think 32 years later you would had your work on a billboard in NYC?
VD ∇ Having lived in NYC for 10 years and as a weekly visitor from PA, I always dreamed of having my work displayed in Times Square on maybe ONE board. Light graffiti and light painting photography are ideal for these digital displays. This dream came true in a HUGE way! I am extremely grateful for this amazing opportunity and for the awesome people at Artists Wanted and chashama! THEY TOTALLY ROCK!
LPP ∇ I think I speak for a lot of light painters out there when I say Thank YOU for everything you have done, and are continuing to do, for our art form. I wish you even bigger success and big sales!
VD ∇ Thank you so very much Jason! Thank YOU for your continued support of my work through your excellent site! I am very honored to be a part of it and fortunate to be a founding member of our ever growing global light painting community! I am just getting started!