Knickknacks on His Knee

Acting and technical improvisation for characters in progress: A Pilgrim and his pets, the tiny disembodied heads of a nun, a monk and an ancient priest. I am at the very beginning of working out the relationships and conflicts in the story. A Pilgrim is a drifter who goes from town to town earning money as a gardener and as a busker, mostly singing Negro Spirituals. He has very few possessions but the most precious one is an invisible box containing his spiritual advisors, the miniature heads of Sister, Brother and Father Bobbings. All of us have precious things, knick-knacks (trinkets, gewgaws, trifles, baubles, tchotchke) that seem worthless to everyone else.

Source: Knickknacks on His Knee


CV 2017


Sylviatoyindustries (Sylvia Toy St. Louis)


Curriculum Vitae

Award-winning actor/filmmaker: LA Neo Noir Film Fest, Grand Jury award; LA Underground Film Fest, Honorable Mention; Creative Arts Film Fest, Honorable Mention/Cinematography. Internationally exhibiting video art/film since 2008. Professional theatre artist. Professional sculptor. Subject of article by Cathrin Gordon: “Artist Retrospective: The Unsung Genius of Sylvia Toy (” B.A., Art/English, University of Nebraska/Lincoln. National Achievement Scholar. I studied videography with Darrell Holdaway.

Videothèque Art Stream (2017 – )

Democracy Scrabble (June 2017)
Underground FilmFest, 2017
Klanghaus, Oakland, 2017
Hong Kong Arthouse Film Festival, 2017
Video Art Miden @ VisualContainerTV, 2017
HearteartH @ VisualContainerTV, 2017
The Videoperformance, Art Web Gallery, 2017
Klanghaus, Oakland, 2016
Creative Arts Film Festival, 2016
Bucharest ShortCut CineFest, 2016
Festival Miden, Greece, 2016
L.A. Neo Noir Novel, Film & Script Festival, Grand Jury award, 2016
Yami-Ichi, Tate Modern (London, 2016)
HearteartH, Europe, 2015, 2016, 2017
Eisentrager-Howard Gallery, Nebraska, 2016
Int’l Video Art Exchange, Marrakech, 2016
CM Projects, London, 2015
The Selfie Show, Detroit, 2015
Pineapple Underground Film Festival, 2014
F.I.V.E. FEELINGS, Int’l, 2014
Time is Love Screening, 2014
Human Emotion Project, 2013
SKY ARTE HD TV, Italy, 2013-14
STREETVIDEOART©/Larcade Gallery, Paris, 2012, 2013
KAPAS Film Festival, Spain, 2012
Artist, OART TV
CologneOff, Int’l, 2011
Altered Esthetics, Minneapolis, 2008, 2010


Creative Arts Film Festival, Honorable Mention, Cinematography (2017)
Los Angeles Underground Film Forum, Honorable Mention (2016)
L.A. Neo Noir Novel, Film & Script Festival, Grand Jury award (2016)
Los Medanos College Art Gallery, Pittsburgh, CA, Solo Exhibition (2008)
Sargent Johnson Gallery, San Francisco, Solo Exhibition (2005)
Lorraine Hansberry Theater Emerging Artist (1994)
Artist Residency, University of Nebraska/Lincoln (1998-2003)
Artist Residency, Jewish Museum San Francisco (1995)
Frierson Playwright Fellow, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, San Francisco (1993)
Reuben Sanders Gallery, Wichita KS, Honorable Mention (1984)


July 11, 2016

July 7, 2016

Mar 28, 2016


Dec 28, 2013

Dec 21, 2013

July 20, 2013

May 2013



July 23, 2012

Sept 1, 2011. (Artist Interview)

Dec 2, 2010

April 1, 2010

Aug 1, 2008

TWITTER @sylvia_toy
INSTAGRAM @sylviatoyindustries

Teaser VOICE Episode 2 – Echo’s First Scream Ⓒ 2015 from Sylvia Toy on Vimeo.


Affect (2014)
“Affect” is a movie about manic depressive’s experience of psychosis as she shops around for a therapist. Mania and a psychotic voice, which often manifests itself as a clownlike, mischievous presence, continually interfere with, interrupt and sabotage the woman’s attempts to communicate with therapist after therapist. 22 minutes.

The Blue Lady (2015)
A revisionist tale about slavery from a female point of view. A plantation owner is in the final stages of syphillis and his screams are heard in different parts of the house by his wife and two house slaves. As the story unfolds, it is clear that noone in the house will mourn his death. Exhibited in the 1974-1978 UNL Alumni Exhibition, Eisentrager- Howard Art Gallery, Lincoln NE (Summer 2016). 40 minutes.

Indigo Lady (2011)
Directed by Sylvia Toy. Starring Sapna Gandhi, Steve Lewis, Nidal Yousef, Nicholas Jackson, Rebecca Longworth, Nima Nejad and Diana Slampyak. Art Director, Tyler Cohen. Technical Advisor, Michael Lewis. “Indigo Lady” is a fictional interview movie about a Nebraska ranching empire heiress who murders her husband, butchers him the way her father taught her to butcher a hog, and turns him into ham. 49 minutes.

Lucy, the First Human (2013)
The setting is a barren, shadowy, womb-like or cave-like environment. There is only one character in the movie. She is based on the hominid, Australopithecus afarensis. What the first human would do, think, feel, and how it would develop – like an infant, mostly sleeping in the beginning until she gradually is drawn out of her self-absorption into the real world? 27 minutes.

Passages, a Myth (2015)
The setting is the firmament from which three sibling deities rule the world. When the youngest sister of the king of the gods kills a human during a dispute over the humans using language in violation of the laws of the gods, the king of the gods absorbs the human corpse into his body and becomes pregnant. There is no dialogue. There are inter- titles preceding each scene. The humans are portrayed in animated sequences. The scenes are green-screened with sky footage as a background. Featuring African American actress and
 performance artist, Sylvia Toy St. Louis. PASSAGES, A MYTH: DISCOVERY OF THE PREGNANCY OF THE KING was selected for Festival Miden, 2016. 24 minutes.

Queen (2014)
A Butoh inspired performance art short film by African-American filmmaker, Sylvia Toy. A mute, solemn priestess dressed in white conducts a birth ritual in a room draped in white to an unseen congregation, while strains of Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 fill the stark room. As she silently performs her sacred duty, her actions are projected in a split screen by a shadow of herself. 9 minutes.

running out (2013)
Cinema verite, a fly-on-the-wall short that opens with a woman planning to kill herself. We hear water running and the camera follows the sound to a bathroom. We see a woman’s bare feet on a drab, faded bathroom mat. We watch the woman draw a glass of water and light a votive candle. As the story unfolds, suicidality itself looms as the central character. Based on true stories. Directed by Michael Lewis. 27 minutes.

The Spinster (2014)
THE SPINSTER is a performance art/video art single-channel movie about an office worker who lives to draw in the classical style. She is obsessed with the Mannerist painter, Jacopo Pontormo. ‘Pontormo’s Diary’ is the only thing she has on her IPod. She lives alone with art supplies and rolls and rolls of paper. She mostly eats eggs & salad, just like her spiritual mentor, Pontormo. 26 minutes.

THE HARPY by Sylvia Toy (2016)
A goddess awakens after 10,000 years in a coma.
THE HARPY is discussed in this article by Cathrin Gordon, “Artist Retrospective: The Unsung Genius of Sylvia Toy” ( 9 minutes.

TYFTB (thank you from the bottom) (2011)
By Sylvia Toy St. Louis & Bart Lewis. “A woman thinks the Universe is collapsing and while trying to find a black hole to escape into, winds up in a mental hospital. As she tries to convince her Psychiatrist to release her so that she can resume her search for a black hole and save herself, her imaginary friend, an alien astronomer who lives inside an old black and white TV, delivers a lecture on dark energy.” 50 minutes.

VOICE, a performance art movie (2016)
VOICE, A PERFORMANCE ART MOVIE is a 159 minute movie about Psyche Smith, a bipolar woman whose psychoses begin traveling in outer space just as she enters therapy. VOICE was shot splitscreen/greenscreen with one actress playing all three characters. The world of VOICE is composed of original montages incorporating NASA footage, anatomical diagrams of the Human nervous system and documentary-style outdoor footage. While the psychoses, Echo & Lyssa, tour outer space dressed to the nines in beautiful clothing, often including hats, Psyche – when not wearing the uniform of the depressed, a bathrobe – begins to find her own heart and starts painting again. Psyche’s therapy sessions are portrayed through monologues given directly through “the Fourth Wall” to the camera. VOICE is not an autobiographical downer confessional about bipolar disorder. VOICE is about the infinity of freedom and joy that one can achieve through self-discovery and following his/her bliss. VOICE received an Honorable Mention from LA Underground Film Forum in 2016 and since 2015, excerpts have screened in festivals around the world – London, Marrakech, Berlin, Barcelona, Milan – including HearteartH Project, International Video Art Exchange Program, and CM Projects’ Chemcraft Exhibit.



From 1990-2007, I was a regularly touring theater artist, primarily as a solo performance artist. Curated appearances include: Afro Solo, Brava Theatre’s Taking Shape, Cafe Voltaire (Chicago), The Children’s Theatre (Lincoln NE), Cultural Odyssey’s African-American Performance Art Festival, Solo Mio, The Headlands, The Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, The Marsh, The Wagon Train Project, Works/San Jose. I was an artist in the Artist Diversity Residency Program at the University of Nebraska from 1998 through 2003. My solo play SCHOOLS!, a story about home protest school during the Civil Rights Movement, premiered at the Afro Solo Festival in San Francisco in 1997, and toured theatre, schools and other venues for 6 years. My acting teacher was Luis Oropeza; my voice coach, Dr. Lee Strawn.

APPEARANCES (partial list)

2nd Online Performance Art Festival (2016)

Madame Pearl (Play by Katherine Robards, Title Role, 2016)

Flesh (Short Film by Sean Sinclair, Credited Support Role, 2015)

Full Frontal (Student Film, Lead Role, 2013)

Sex, Lies & Videotape (Student Film, Lead Role, 2013)

4.48 Psychosis (Play by Sarah Kane, 2007)

Afro Solo Festival (Solo Play by Myself, 2007)

Corps Actor, Jump! Theatre (San Francisco, 2005-­2010)

Jane: Abortion and the Underground (Play by Paula Kamen, Support Role, 2004)

JUMP National Tour (Solo Play by Myself, 2001)

Schools! National Tour (Play by Myself, 1998­-2003)


Current …….. (IMDb profile)

April 20, 2016 …….. (MADAME PEARL, premiere photos)

2016 ……. (FLESH)


SCULPTOR (As “Nena St. Louis”)

My work is in approximately 50 private collections throughout the United States (partial list, My professional representation: Gallery 72 (Omaha NE), 1985-1987; Images A Gallery, 1987-1989, Mace Space for Art, 1990-1992, and Bomani Gallery, 1991-2003 (San Francisco); and Lacy Primitive & Fine Art, 2004-present (Los Angeles). I was a member of Ceres Gallery (New York), 2005-2008. I was mentored by Margarita Worth, Nebraska, and David Klass, New York, NY.






San Francisco Public Library (Major Group Show)


Los Medanos College Art Gallery, Pittsburgh, CA (Two-person Show)

Sargent Johnson Gallery, San Francisco (Major Group Show)

Ceres Gallery, Group Show, New York


Precious Things, Ceres Gallery, New York (Solo)

Evolution, Somarts Gallery, San Francisco (Major Group Show)


Origins, Ceres Gallery, New York (Solo)

Krasdale Gallery, Bronx, NY (Major Group Show)


Sargent Johnson Gallery, San Francisco (Solo)

Ceres Gallery, Group Show, New York

Art As Deep As It Can

As artists we are often inspired by our environment, influenced by our immediate circumstances and forced to resort to utilizing whatever resources are available. My immediate circumstance today was the overpowering need to create something, even though I have had the flu for days. Because I have the flu, the least physically challenging performance on camera that I can do are actions and sound that are not strenuous. My available resources include a vocal range limited by my illness – i.e., the only notes I can sustain for (almost) a whole inhalation are high E’s. And my environment includes 12 yards of beautiful black toile that I have only used once since I bought it a year ago. Sometimes, in spite of a subtext-laden title, that’s as deep as the work goes.Video & stills from THE WITCH OF ENDOR (2017).

Source: Art As Deep As It Can

The King of the Gods Gives Birth

After Sum’a the Enforcer, youngest sister of King Sum’o, kills a Human during an argument, she delivers the corpse of the Human to her brother. Sum’o the King of the Gods places the dead Human next to his heart and becomes pregnant. His sisters discover the pregnancy. This festival cutting is part of a longer short, Passages, A Myth, 2015, which is available on Saatchi Art as a limited edition DVD.

Source: The King of the Gods Gives Birth

Staying (the course) Power

After a two-month string of rejections from film festivals, last week I learned that a short I made entirely, including editing, on my iPhone earned nominations for best director, best cinematography and best short experimental film. Just like that – which is exactly what I said to myself the week before last after getting my fifth or sixth rejection in three days. It is difficult not to have strong emotions around rejection. The most important thing for an artist to do is keep making art. The second most important thing is for her to keep putting the art out there. If the art is not out there, it will not even be seen let alone be selected.

Source: Staying (the course) Power

Why I Will Never Pay a Film Festival Submission Fee Again (unless I do)

Very helpful and surprisingly objective. It is difficult not to have strong emotions around rejection. The most important thing for an artist to do is keep making art. The second most important thing is for her to keeping the art out there.

The KR7productions Blog

Before I even dip a toe into this subject, a little background: If you had asked me two years ago what the hardest part of making our film ”THE WATERHOLE” was I would have answered something like “working with limited resources” or “time constraints.”  If you were to ask me today I would answer simply and without hesitation: “getting into film festivals.”  The film business is a freight train’s length of consecutive rejection.  You get used to it.  You have to. I really wanted to take the film to as many places we could, show it to audiences and get their reactions all while partying with other filmmakers and film fans.  That didn’t happen. Getting rejected to as many film festivals as we did hurt but it’s a reflection of reality.  There is a lot of competition and you take your chances just like anyone else.

For the most part…

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When you meet your sense of responsibility coming down the street

I had the privilege as a pre-teen of being taken by my father to a class on non-violent activism that was taught by an original student of Saul Alinsky at a church in Kansas City, Kansas. The class focused specifically on what one should do and how one should behave during the course of a street protest if s/he was directly confronted by a police officer. We were taught how to fall, how to protect our heads and faces without fighting back and, generally, how to safely passively resist. The class emphasized safety. By that time – I was twelve – I had already carried many a picket sign in many a civil rights demonstration against racial discrimination. I had passed out leaflets on the sidewalk during protests and boycotting campaigns against businesses that openly discriminated against African American job applicants. I was an expert on how far to stay away from the store entrance in order to be within the legal limits of a protest demonstration permit – though permits did not necessarily prevent the store owners or anyone else from pushing a twelve year-old girl off the curb into downtown traffic. But as you see, I’m still here. And yesterday, remembering all I had been taught, I felt called to witness a police stop and search of a very young, very polite and compliant, but nevertheless foreign-appearing young man in the Mission District of San Francisco CA. I stood twenty feet away, not even within earshot, and I was even ten feet behind the two community activists who held a vigilant but peaceful observance of the stop and search. I made this video immediately after arriving back home.

Source: When you meet your sense of responsibility coming down the street