Silvana Tei Kenney
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Tell us a little about who you are. 

I am an Italo-American conceptual artist. Though I began painting and sculpting figurative works, my interest pretty quickly moved to deal with ideas and concepts,

How did you become an artist?  What does being an artist mean to you?

I discovered my passion for sculpture pretty much by accident. Though I had painted for years, sculpting became very important, and allowed me to create some very meaningful works. The process of sculpting helped me to tap into my subconscious mind and see things that I had not known were part of who I was, awakening me to new ideas and possibilities. Being an artist means to approach life with passion, and specifically for me, it means to create order and beauty.

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What inspires you?  

I take inspiration from questions about death and life, social issues, poetry, the Holy Scriptures and the mystery and complexity of God. Art does reflect the culture, and as an artist I feel responsible to tackle the issues of the time and honestly respond.

Did you study to become an artist?

I did return to school after my children were older. I received a Master of Art from the California State University in Northridge, with emphasis in Sculpture and studied under prestigious artists like Kim Abeles and Bob Bassler. I also pursued some workshops with performance artist and painter Rachel Rosenthal.

What do you do when you lack inspiration?

Sometimes when I lack inspiration, I go in the studio and start playing with clay. Often I create small moquettes of what I would like to see completed in large works. I love to read, and if I am not working on a particular piece, I pursue my own personal growth, I meditate, I study the Scriptures or listen to inspirational talks, and wait...

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Tell us a little about your art and craft.  What is it? 

If I create a small work, I like to use clay or wax, then complete it in bronze. When I create large installations I am not limited by a specific medium; I begin with an idea then I do research for the appropriate material. I have worked with rocks, metal, paper, textile and salt. I also have done some performance art.

Is there an interesting fact about your method?

The idea that I am not limited by a specific medium gives me the freedom to explore different possibilities. For example, I like to work with beeswax. I have covered several of my unfired clay pieces with it. I enjoy the process, and I like the result that I achieve with this method. Like life, these works are not permanent.

Are there principles that are important to you for taking the step from ideas & inspiration to actually making art?

Order, Beauty and Honesty are the three principles that regulate my work. I do not mind interacting with difficult or even controversial ideas and concepts, but the work needs to embody order, beauty and be honest, always coming from a place of integrity.

"Embrace" by Silvana Tei Kenney

"Embrace" by Silvana Tei Kenney

Is there a piece you created that is most meaningful to you? 

The installations that I have created in Italy and in the States are very close to my heart, but if I had to choose one piece most reflects who I am, it would be “Embrace”.

”Embrace” has been criticized because of the nudity of the figure, since nudity in our culture has the connotation of sexuality. It is uncomfortable to others for the cross, because it is the symbol of Christianity. This piece embodies my relationship with Jesus Christ as my Savior and my dependency on Him.

What impact do you desire most to make?

My art has usually an emotional impact on its audience. People identify with the issues that I deal with, and they often evoke deep emotions. Depth of meaning and beauty are two elements that are universal and crucial for soul formation and transformation . For this reason they are an integral part of my art.

How do you know when you are successful as an artist?

I think that I am most successful as an artist when I am passionate about the work, wether it is a single piece or an installation, and the audience can relate to it for its honesty, beauty and poetry.

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To see more of Silvana's art, please visit

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