Eliseo Art Silva, born on 1972 in Manila, is a contemporary Filipino painter.
He began drawing at the age of 4, creating images on manila paper (used as bags for hot pandesal) while his mother managed their family-owned bakery. As a 3rd-5th Grade student at Benedictine Abbey School, Silva earned his first street art name: "ELESI " (Filipino word for airplane propeller, and short for Eliseo) for being his school's most in-demand chalkboard artist. At the age of 10, Eliseo created his first mural painted directly on a wall a 5' x 15' mural inside their bedroom depicting the characters of Batibot (Filipino Sesame Street) and its US counterpart converged into one scene.
Silva started taking formal painting lessons at the age of 11 under Roger San Miguel while a student at Letran College in Manila where he received his first mural commission years later at 15 years old. He majored in the Visual Arts at the Philippine High School for the Arts (PHSA) in Los Banos, Laguna. He immigrated to the United States in 1989 and obtained his BFA at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.
In 2003, he earned an MFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Hoffberger School of Painting in Baltimore, Maryland. He won the Nehru Gold Medal in India for his painting (representing the Philippines), a Gold Medal (most outstanding Visual Artist) while at the PHSA, and a Grandes Figuras Award from Letran College. He received the prestigious Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant, Independence Foundation Artist's Travel Grant, the Award of Design Excellence from the City of LA Department of Cultural Affairs and the Purchase Award from Binney and Smith.
Silva has held numerous solo and group exhibitions in the United States and abroad. His works have been featured by the Smithsonian Institution, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Honolulu Academy of Art Museum, the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art, the Painted Bride Art Center, the Conner Contemporary, the Nehru Gallery (India), the Piramide Cultural Center (Mexico), Plug-In Gallery (Canada) and the Skirball Cultural Center.
Silva is the artist behind "Talang Gabay- Our Guiding Star", the 82' x 30' Eastern Gateway to Historic Filipinotown recognized as the nation's largest Filipino American monument and the “Gintong Kasaysayan” Filipinotown mural, described by the Smithsonian as "bold and daring", it’s the first artwork to honor Larry Itliong as the catalyst of the great 1965 Delano Grape Strike. It’s also honored as the "most significant Filipino mural in the country" by the LA Times, as one of the "20 iconic murals of Los Angeles" by LA Weekly, and as the "most famous Filipino American artwork". (Ling, Austin, 2010)
I have a longstanding interest in art, painting and community-based and participatory approaches to public art.
In my work as a muralist, I always find pedagogical ways for youth and community members to bring in their cultural perspectives, knowledge, and imagination into the creative process.
For example, in designing a middle school mural, I used drama and theater arts with youth. The students decide how a scene is depicted in their school wall art by acting them out.
I have a lot to contribute including decades long experience creating murals alongside community members. I am naturally inclined to bring in a deep disciplinary sense of history, especially those kinds of history that are seldom represented. But I also would have so much to learn from other artists, students, teachers and colleagues in the process of making art.
I believe in the philosophy of building off from the cultural wealth in communities. I hope to gain the pedagogical knowledge to work in a genuinely democratic space and learn dialogical approaches to working with students and community members.
Most of all, to promote and professionalize the arts in this country's wonderfully diverse neighborhoods.