Joe Silvestro’s work over the past quarter century has taken many forms, but usually it has addressed his interest in words, symbols, and space. Language is everywhere. There is a flag on the moon. Space is everywhere. He thinks about this stuff a lot more than he would like to admit.
Yet, he is drawn to the idea that language has no inherent physical scale except when it becomes part of the visible world. When words or symbols enter space in this way, they become part of a more exciting problem. What should be done with them?
Writers must address and react to problems of transparency or authenticity because they try to communicate with specificity and clarity to transfer meaning. But visual artists can tinker with words using a wider array of tools with a different effect. The alphabet or a word, a list, or phrase can be transformed by treating them as, or with – or within, marks, still lifes, signage, shapes, and visual puns.
Most recently, Silvestro’s interest in words also concerns the language of media and social justice activism. His newer work addresses deep interests in language, politics, and communal artistic engagement within physical space across painting, performative intervention, community outreach, and traditional design. It is also informed by his personal formal sensibilities and efforts to find beauty, poetry, balance, and visual richness throughout his daily life.