Sylvia Toy St. Louis | List of Work (Exhibition List | Videography), January 2018

Year of creation: 2008

Psychotic Artifacts. Exhibited in The Revolution Will Be Televised, Altered Esthetics Gallery, Minneapolis, MN, 2008.

Year of creation: 2010

Depression As Geography. Exhibited in ‘CologneOff VII, Marrakech and Turkestan, 2011.

Year of creation: 2011

Indigo Lady. Selected for L.A. Neo Noir Film Festival, Femmes Fatales Grand Jury Award, 2016.

Indigo Lady pre-production videos. Exhibited at Galerie Chartier, West Haven, CT, 2013; KAPAS Film Festival, Spain, 2012.

Runnn. Exhibited on Skye Arte TV, Italy, 2013-2014.

Traveling To. Exhibited in STREETVIDEO Art on the streets of Paris and at Larcade Gallery, Paris October 2012, March 2013.

TYFTB (thank you from the bottom), (remastered and re-released 2017). Pre-production video screened at Galerie Chartier, West Haven CT, 2013.

Year of creation: 2013

Lucy, the First Human (remastered and re-released in 2017). Featured in The Unstitute Projection Room, November – December 2017.

running out. Exhibited in Pineapple Underground Film Festival, Hong Kong, 2014.

VOICE Pre-production videos. 2013-2016. Exhibited in International Video Art Exchange Program, Marrakech (2016) and in the Chemcraft Exhibit, CM Projects, London (2015).

Year of creation: 2014

before chill. Selected for Creative Arts Film Festival and awarded Honorable Mention for Best Cinematography, Online festival, 2016.

Queen. Exhibited in “Clash,” Siger Art Gallery, London, November 2017.

Year of creation: 2014

The Sound of Being. Toured internationally in Magmart F.I.V.E., 2014-2015. Exhibited in CCIFabrika “Now&After17,” Moscow, RU, 2017.

Year of creation: 2015

The Blue Lady by Sylvia Toy. Exhibited in 1974-1978 UNL Alumni Exhibition, Eisentrager-Howard Art Gallery, Lincoln, NE, 2016.

Passages, a Myth. Excerpt, PASSAGES, A MYTH | DISCOVERY OF THE PREGNANCY OF THE KING, exhibited in Festival Miden, Kalamata, Greece, 2016 and at Visual Container, Milan, IT 2017.

KILLER JANE Pre-production videos. 2015-2017. Selected for L.A. Neo Noir Film Festival and awarded a Femmes Fatales Grand Jury Award, 2016.

Year of creation: 2016

THE HARPY by Sylvia Toy. Selected for Bucharest ShortCut CineFest, September, 2016.

VOICE, a performance art movie. Selected for Hong Kong Arthouse Film Festival, 2017. Awarded Honorable Mention laurels by Los Angeles Underground Film Forum, 2016. Awarded Honorable Mention laurels by Experimental Film Forum, 2017.

VOICE Festival Cutting 2. Exhibited at VisualContainer TV (2016 and 2017) and toured in HearteartH to Barcelona, Berlin, Milan (2016).

VOICE Festival Cutting 3. Exhibited in Underground FilmFest, Munich, Germany, July 2017. Exhibited in Black Underground Film Fest, Rancho Cucamonga, California, October 2017.

Year of creation: 2017

THE HARPY Tribunal. Exhibited on Art Web Gallery, La Spezia, IT, online June-July 2017.

KILLER JANE by Sylvia Toy. Exhibited at Klanghaus, Oakland CA, May 2017. Selected for Chicago Amarcord Arthouse Film Awards, November 2017.

AND SO I SAID. Exhibited in Burnt Experimental Video Art and Film Festival, Montreal, December 2017.

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My Cinematic Kitchen Window by Sylvia Toy

There is nothing quite the light of late autumn/early winter. Shot on my iPhone while I was supposed to be making lunch. #experimentalfilm #sylviatoy #sylviatoystlouis #performanceart #sylviatoyindustries #AfricanAmericanartist

The Cape Experiments by Sylvia Toy

THE CAPE EXPERIMENTS by Sylvia Toy (No. 1) from Sylvia Toy on Vimeo.

The earliest known example of “kill one’s darlings” was in Arthur Quiller-Couch’s 1913-1914 Cambridge lectures “On the Art of Writing.”: “If you here require a practical rule of me, I will present you with this: ‘Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it—whole-heartedly—and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.”

THE CAPE EXPERIMENTS by Sylvia Toy (No. 2) from Sylvia Toy on Vimeo.

I made the cape in these videos for my character, THE HARPY. It was quite a lot of work and took 3 times as long to complete as I originally thought it would, nearly an entire workweek. I had to consider whether the cape was a darling that needed to be killed. Now, in search of new back stories, I will be experimenting with the cape, however, following it around to discover new stories.

THE CAPE EXPERIMENTS by Sylvia Toy (07-31-2016) from Sylvia Toy on Vimeo.

The July 31, 2016 Cape Experiments were directed by my husband and frequent collaborator, Michael Lewis. Having never before tried to greenscreen images in real environments – especially not outdoors in San Francisco, which is so beautiful and green for an urban area – I am very pleased with the clips Mike Lewis and I shot today of “The Cape.” There are stories to be made and our experimentation will help me find some of them. I have received very provocative and helpful feedback from my network of artist-peers.

The Cape Experiments by Sylvia Toy, Second Pass (Color/Stereo, 09’30”, USA, 2016) from Sylvia Toy on Vimeo.

KILLER JANE, a movie in story development –

KILLER JANE by Sylvia Toy: STORYBOARD, Act One (Version 2) from Sylvia Toy on Vimeo.

KILLER JANE is a short feature currently in story development. Jane, the protagonist, serially dreams that she has shot & killed a man. The dream always starts moments after she commits the murder. Jane never sees her victim; but she knows he was a man who was a stranger.

Currently, I am creating backstory to establish the conflicts on which the KILLER JANE and its subtexts will be built.


I create story primarily by improvising monologues on camera while in character. For 17 years as a solo stage actor, I played scenes in which two or more characters were having a conversation. When I realized that my characters told their own stories better than I could write them, my actor took over from my sadly mediocre writer. I rarely have “block,” but I do find that I have to let a character live for a while before he or she starts telling me the story. When I had to let go of my (to-date) favorite character (an actor sadly unavailable) and, so, had to create another character as Jane’s antagonist, I had to wait for a new voice to start talking to me and tell me when to turn on the camera.

Jane and I have been living together for months. She began her life inside my head and on camera as a fairly vivacious forensics specialist. As I continued to improvise her nightmare and develop the monster who shadows her after every murder, I saw more potential for conflict is her being a straight-laced, clean living Plain Jane who doesn’t even date, let alone date strangers. As of this week, she is a Trusts & Estates attorney.

Daphne, Jane’s secretary/confidante/BFF, is Jane’s antagonist. Daphne is a go-getter who thinks she’s at least as smart as any lawyer. She hates rich people, especially Cleo, Jane’s client/confidante/BFF. Cleo is a wealthy woman with whom Jane went to school, who wants to divorce her husband with the smallest payoff that’s legally possible. Cleo treats Daphne like a servant.

In every profession, there is hierarchy; and class as well as level of education differences among people in the Law can create the kind of drama, nonsense and stuff that stories and dreams are made of. If you wondered why there’s always been so many lawyer dramas – well – or is that redundant?

A new short: THE HARPY (first cut, 8 minutes, 2016)

A female goddess awakens from a 10,000-year coma only to discover that her kind is extinct.

This project began “edited out” of my current major project, KILLER JANE (about a woman has nightmares that she is a serial killer). However, though the Harpy has a lot of nightmare potential, she emerged with too much subtext not to be a protagonist in her own right. The character really spoke to me, revealing that her sister gods had banished her and put her into what was supposed to be a permanent sleep because she disagreed with the gods’ creation of the humans and said it was a “mistake.” Since in the world of this story gods don’t make mistakes, the Harpy was a heretic. Ironically, when she awakens, the only remaining living member of her lineage is a god, a First One, who also was condemned to eternal sleep as a heretic.

I am still working on fleshing out the resolution of this short movie, but essentially, it is finished.

Story: The world of a story has its own neurochemical physicality

I have had the very interesting experience in the past four or five days of “watching” my brain lay down pathways for a new project to happen. I cannot help but believe that composing inside one’s mind, forming images, feeling a character’s responses to its environment/discovering her emotions, planning actions and events that take place in an imaginary world of one’s own making, that all of that is a physical process that happens in the brain and that changes the brain.  And that this process creates a “location” for story that becomes more and more real as the pathways are traveled and the story is told.

The world of a story has its own neurochemical physicality.

Fragment: Audience 

As a young person, whenever I was involved in theater as an actor I became restless and claustrophobic. I might have lost my path in theater, in fact, if not for random individuals who cajoled, enticed, dragged, pushed me back into theater off and on for 20 years until one Sunday night, I saw a performance poet on TV and knew that I wanted to be able to perform solo, put a whole world into my body and recreate that world on stage so audience could be my captives and see things the way I saw them. 

But that’s not the way it works if you don’t want to totally suck as a solo performer. 

I found that out immediately upon performing a piece that I’d written (after many rewrites, Finding the Golden Thread) onstage by myself the first time. I felt more like the servant than the master. I knew right away that not only is the audience not there for you, the audience creates as much energy in the room, fills the air with as much subtext as you (hopefully) do. In other words, the audience/solo performer relationship is a mutual exchange. As a performer, you owe your audience. 

That is one of the most important things I know.