Meet the artist - Sylvia Nuzzo Philis

Not Just Another Day by Sylvia Nuzzo Philis - photography
This month we are featuring interviews with the artists who are in our upcoming art show - sight/unseen - at The Artist's Den in Concord, May 21-26, 2016.

This is Sylvia Nuzzo Philis - what do you like most about living in Concord?
I’ve lived in Concord nearly 10 years, and in nearby Walnut Creek for 5 years prior to that. At that time, 15 years ago, I had just ‘landed’ in the East Bay after making the move from western Canada. I find there are so many ways to enjoy the area, mainly through nature and being outdoors. The mild/warm weather, Mt. Diablo, walking/cycling trails, proximity to ocean and mountains - this is all very valuable for me as an artist. The more I become involved in the community, particularly the arts community, the more likable Concord is to live in.
What medium(s) do you plan to use for your piece in the show?
I generally use photography in some way for my art, although it’s not always in the traditional form. If there are ways I can distort a view or put a twist on a process or technique, that's when it becomes most interesting for me, so I’m always willing to change things up. 
However, in realistic photography, I am very drawn to a photojournalistic style. Here again, I like to make visible what is perhaps not usually always seen or obvious.

Any new techniques or materials you've learned about recently?
My approach to art-making often falls towards finding a solution to a problem, or an answer to a question. My attention lately has been less focused on my particular art-making skills or art practice, but more about my practice of community-building through the arts. Much like any creative practice I have, I am constantly thinking about it, I take some action every day in order to make progress, and consider the progress made as somehow making a difference in the world. Although making a difference in the world is a bigger responsibility when provoking and supporting community art as I have been doing lately. Not only does it have to make a difference for myself on a personal level, but when you engage at a broader level you want it to have a positive effect and outcome for the parties involved and the public at-large.
Yes, I'm Listening by Sylvia Nuzzo Philis - photography

How long have you been making art?
I’ve been an artist since I can remember. For many years it was performing arts that consumed me: music, theater, dance…and when I began to take dance seriously, I found that it was choreography that I became most engaged in; the making of dances, the elements of composition, the use of space, and the message or form that was conveyed. This turns out to be the same priorities for my visual artwork. 
What's the best advice you've received as an artist?
My training has been eclectic and therefore I consider much of my mentorship to be somewhat non-traditional as well. I hesitate to name names for fear of neglecting to mention someone totally obvious, but if I were to mention one person, it would be the late, great David Adams, who was the first principal danseur for the National Ballet of Canada back in the day. I had the honor of having him as a teacher for 3 years while I was studying dance at the college level. He was so wise and so subtle in his ways of making us dance beyond what we imagined our abilities to be. He was a very gifted dance artist and uniquely generous in sharing his artistry with his students.
What advice do you have for new artists?
There is no shortage of advise for art students…I keep the same approach for my artwork as I do for most things, but it’s even more critical for artists…simply, if it’s important to you, then make it a priority.

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