Lise Silva: Spectrums & Prisms, Bodies & Realms

April 19 – June 24, 2017


Red Poppy Art House Exhibitions Presents: Spectrums & Prisms, Bodies & Realms
Curated by Zena Carlota & Elena Mencarelli

Spectrums & Prisms, Bodies & Realms is the result of artist Lise Silva, Red Poppy Art House executive artistic director Zena Carlota, and Red Poppy curator/host Elena Mencarelli working together to realize the multidisciplinary vision of the Red Poppy, a dynamic space where visual and performing arts, cultural diversity, and creativity come together to enrich community experience. This exhibition aims to open a dialogue about three elements that connect Silva’s creative process and the Red Poppy’s artistic vision: cross-pollination, transformation, and inclusion.

Every creative moment begins as a spark, but it takes a heterogenous environment—cross-pollination in an atmosphere rich with diverse character and content—to fan that spark so that it becomes a work of art. Spectrums is the result of a deeply heterogenous creative process. On the conceptual side, it is influenced by meditation, mysticism, and Surrealism, and on the formal level, it lives in the world of arts & crafts and design. With their powerful symbolic meanings and handmade woven jewels, Silva’s works are artisanal products that are ready to be worn or hung on the walls.

Just as Silva’s artistic production is in constant transformation—of colors, shapes, and meanings—a venue like the Red Poppy is never static; it is always in flux, molded by the energies, personalities, and events that flow through its walls. It’s accurate to say, in fact, that cross-fertilization is a specific energy that enlivens the Red Poppy Art House. In Spectrums, the artist transforms knotting and weaving techniques, usually seen as a simple feminine occupation, into an instrument of spiritual elevation. “My aim is to embrace the feminine legacy of this medium,” Silva says, “and emphasize its powerful potential for evoking metaphysical, mysterious concepts of birth and creation.”

Inclusion (of both the artist’s experience and the viewers’ presence) is the third important facet of the creative process behind Spectrums & Prisms, Bodies & Realms. Like a prism or a body, each sacred knot can be seen alone, in its variety of shapes and colors; anyone can recognize a personal meaning in it. At the same time, the exposition mode that sets the art-fiber objects in a pyramidal shape, locating them a short distance from each other, includes them in a more ample dimension, a spectrum or a realm.




Lise Silva lives in Oakland and works from her studio in Berkeley. Her artistic practice is strongly influenced by meditation, mysticism, classic film, psychedelic illustration, Surrealism, and Art Deco design. She explores the power of symbols through her Sacred Knots line of fiber jewelry and wall hangings. She creates handmade cord entwined in knot designs, expressing dreams and deep desires. In addition to the art of knotting, Lise’s fiber work encompasses sewing, wrapping, and tassel-making. Meditation and visualization are an extension of her creative practice and are important tools in her design process. She is the co-creator of In The House of Lovers, a collaboration with artist and creator of Spirit Speak Tarot Deck, Mary Elizabeth Evans.
This collection explores juxtapositions that both the cosmos and fiber arts share. Combining techniques of knotting, weaving, tassel-making, and sewing, my intention was to create soft, entwined shapes of cotton cord that mimic both the invisible forces and material bodies of the cosmos. Throughout history, fiber arts have been sidelined in the arts as exclusively “women’s work,” but my aim is to embrace the feminine legacy of this medium and emphasize its powerful potential for evoking metaphysical, mysterious concepts of birth and creation.










Elena Mencarelli moved to San Francisco after concluding her Master Degree in Visual Arts at the University of Bologna, Italy. Previously, she was the artistic director of the Make Your Mark Art Gallery in Melbourne, Australia. In addition to her artistic practice and curatorial background, she is also engaged in art criticism. Elena is the co-writer of the catalogue of the double exhibition Maria Rebecca Ballestra – Alan Sonfist, a better landscape (Unimedia Modern Contemporary Art, Genova, Italy) and is the author of Maria Rebecca Ballestra, a phenomenology of posthumanism, soon to be published in both Italian and English.

Zena Carlota is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, and visual artist based in the Bay Area. Her traditional background in kora and West African harp has inspired her to combine her love of classical West African string music with Appalachian folk, Delta blues, and soul to create narratives of memory and migration in the African Diaspora. An accomplished visual artist, Zena finds it a natural progression to apply in her own art the same themes of ritual and tradition found in West African music. As a fifth generation Bay Area resident, she values the notion of longevity and sustainability in community and sees the role of the Red Poppy as a vehicle for creativity and support for artists.