My work as a performance artist

Still, VOICE series: Ave Maria

A performance artist is a multimedia artist by definition as performance art is “an art form that combines visual art with dramatic performance.” There is quite a lot of theater – good solid theater – in the collective body of work that is performance art. There is also chocolate, bodily fluids (blood, etc.), meat, water, paint, etc. – many of which can be shown to be also part of the toolboxes of ritual, witchcraft and shamanism. Examples: Ron Athey’s work, [See Incorruptible Flesh Perpetual Wound], Carolee Schneeman’s work [see Meat Joy] and the work of the Grandmother of performance art, Marina Abramovic.

In Ms. Abramovic’s masterwork at MOMA New York, audience response is one of the most powerful mediums that are part of the piece. See The Artist is Present.

The most important tool in my toolbox is acting – and sometimes, more specifically, acting “beats” (“Beats” are, quite simply, units of action).

In my work as a performance artist, I embrace beats and make the most of them that my imagination allows. It is a gratifying task.



Performance art & telling the truth

Performance Art. Starting out, I had so much to say. Yet, I felt stupid.

I think there are few things more fearful than plunging into the unknown parts of oneself for the raw materials of art. But, I am an actor. Plunging into myself is my job.

Visit Sylvia Toy St. Louis on Youtube.

Sylvia Toy -The Blue Lady DAWN-Prologue 3


A New Performance Idea, Inspired by a Seedpod

This is a new idea that started to grow when I found the mysterious coniferous pod. I began to imagine a magician or priestess or conjuror who is trying to master the pod’s miraculous powers. This video is for my “sketchbook.” I will be trying this idea again, adding the Ushabti I once received as a gift as well as some of my own iconic sculptures; a human skull and a few long bones; perhaps a tamborine and primitive percussive objects; and layers and layers of veils and ritualistic makeup. I see this ceremony happening in a wikiup type structure, lit by kerosene lamp (very exciting, strange, primevally frightening shadows on the walls of the wikiup, I imagine!).

Having attended religious services of many denominations, I come away with the belief that the power of ritual originates in the purposeful placement of ordinary objects – chalices, censers, scrolls, books, candles, and here, leaves – the placement of those objects in such a way that the context makes those ordinary objects both extraordinary and magical, and greatly magnifies the importance of those objects.

Step away from the canvas



Still, THE BLUE LADY, Storyboard-Version One

Last night, my husband and I had an argument over my latest VOICE video. The clip of the long shot has a vibrating halo that I can probably mostly remedy in Final Cut. I know how to fix the problem with lighting and my husband thinks I should reshoot the scene. That’s not going to happen – the scene was improvised not scripted, the energy in the scene was good, it is what it is and now it’s over. (For me, the project was over when I figured out how to better light my new studio set up and I’m tempted to move on without fixing the clip!)

I was taught 1) that the very most important thing for an artist to learn is that a project is finished when it’s finished, not when it’s perfect; and 2) that one masterpiece or even several do not a body of work make; and 3) that it is all about body of work.

I had this driven home to me after I had accomplished a difficult carving project on my first piece of hardwood (walnut). As I basked in my exhaustion and self-satisfaction, my mentor said: “Good. Now go and do your REAL work.”

The big picture is not made up of discrete projects. The big picture is made up of completed successful projects, completed unsuccessful projects, a masterpiece or two, outright failures, abandoned projects and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, the knowledge and depth of understanding gained along one’s path of creation from each project.

That is not my philosophy. That is what really happens in the real world of living and working as artists. If you don’t believe me, peek into your own studio.

What’s underneath the surface between my husband’s and my disagreement are our different ways of big-picturing. My husband works on one big project at a time and that keeps him focused. I can’t focus on any one thing without considering how it relates to everything else I do.

But stepping away from the canvas to get a better look is stepping away from the canvas to get a better look.

Now, go and do your real work.