Beauty Without a Face. ~ Laura Stefani
We don’t know where she comes from or where she lives.
We don’t know her face, but we know her intimate space which she expresses through her creative photography and her writing. It’s weird, we connect with her in the deepest way, beyond the usual way to communicating. This is the magic of the Katarina Silva’s mystery.
Her images bring us into a world of the feminine essence: a world of struggle and at the same time a world of peace and freedom. She is passionate and inspiring. I am very happy to begin my interview series with her—realising that we don’t always need a face, that its sometimes just a mask and sometimes we need just to be.
1. Who is Katarina Silva?
I am a very mysterious, self-expressionist artist who uniquely creates all my self-portraits with the use of a ten second timer on my camera. I choose only a ten second window in which to snap my shots because the present is an important meditation for me at this time in my life. I practice letting go of the past and not planning a rigid future every time I give myself a temporary time frame in which to create.
I absorb myself in the spontaneous power of the present moment and let it take me away! This ten-second space sustains me in its impermanence. Its expression inevitably results in my self-portraiture art, which is always an expression of my dreams, my fears, my emotions, my life, my being.
2. Tell us something about your creative photography. Why did you choose to hide your face and show your body?
My art and self-expression thrives on preserving a certain veil of mystery around my identity. My photography emerges from a time in my life in which I felt like I was loosing myself. My art saved me. The secrecy gave me the confidence to express myself uninhibitedly. It has been a very interesting process. I am always challenging myself to bring more and more of my being out into the expression of my art. It is continuous. Every time I step in front of my camera I am a new person, as life is constantly changing me. But I am also the same person. I have many sides to me. I think this is true for many people; humans are multi-faceted by nature.
So, in my self-portraits, I show all the different sides of my personality. I also revive old parts of me I thought I’d never see again. It is always a surprise what emerges because my creative process is very spontaneous. In excluding my face I also give others more freedom to imagine their own face on my body, or the face of a loved one in my stead. This way my photographs can more easily expand beyond my own identity into that of anyone who identifies with them, and the emotions they express. I would like my art to speak to as many people as possible.
3. How did you find out about Elephant Journal? And what motivated you to write for EJ?
A friend of mine told me about EJ, and I really like the variety of voices! When I first came across Elephant Journal, I had just been through a painful breakup and used my art a lot as a way of processing it. People who knew me found this very unique, so I decided to write about it and share my story with Elephant. Then Bob Weisenberg invited me to be a regular contributor.
4. How is your relationship with writing?
Writing has always been a part of me. I am a very expressive person by nature, and do so in all kinds of ways from dance, to art, to writing. When I feel my voice is not being heard elsewhere I write. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night to write! I have a very passionate relationship with the written word, as it is an extension of my voice. Writing soothes me. It gives my feelings an outlet. It is like a companion I can always count on. Writing is like the best friend who always listens. After I write I always feel more like myself.
5. How do you choose the topics for your blogs?
I don’t feel like I choose the topics I write about as much as they choose me. The choices are not intellectual ones. They come from a deeper place within me: an intuitive place fueled with feelings. If I feel passionate about something, and it is stirring me inside, then I write about it. I have to have an emotional connection with the subject. I have to be excited about communicating it. The subject I write about has to hold my heart in its grip like we’re dancing an enthusiastic and colorful tango together. I pour a lot of myself, and my life into what I write. Always. I am very raw in my written expressions. They tell the story of who I am on many levels, if you read closely enough.
6. What are the best qualities a blogger should have?
I think if a person is coming from the most authentic place inside of them, and writing with passion, conviction and honesty, and most of all, fearlessly, then they can easily write a hell of a blog post! A good blogger comes from the heart.
7. You wrote the post My Art is my yoga. What is the main relationship between writing or creating art and practicing yoga? What do they have in common?
To me, art, yoga and writing are all vehicles of expression. We human beings are born with a natural eagerness to express ourselves in very wild and creative ways. I think, as we age, and inhibitions set in, our expressions can become more stiff and calculated. Children are so free and creative in the way they express themselves by nature! I like art, yoga and writing because they encourage that same freedom of expression. If we look at it like a playful experience, we will surely create something wonderful, and have a blast making it! That’s the trick.
8. Is there a blog post you have written which represents you most and why? If not, what is the best post you ever wrote on Elephant Journal to recommend to readers?
Well, all of my posts contain parts of me within them. I pour a lot of my being into what I write, just as I do with my art. Everything I write is an authentic expression of how I feel, or what I believe, and I will often give glimpses into my world and my personal history in each blog. It’s hard for me to pick just one blog to represent me because each one shows a different aspect of who I am. If I was forced to pick one to recommend to readers it would be a toss up between “My Art as My Yoga” and “When Pain Begs for an Outlet”.
9. Please share with me the names of other Elephant Journal bloggers you enjoy and appreciate.
I really enjoy Andrea Balt’s witty and humorous intellect, and Tanya Lee Markul’s intelligent heart. And there’s nothing like Kate Bartolotta’s powerful vulnerability and Jackie Summer’s poetic, autobiographical reflections. There are so many to choose from, but those are a good start!
10. It’s more than one year you have been writing on Elephant. What did you learn from this experience?
This has been a crazy year of transition and change for me! Being invited by Bob Weisenberg to become a regular blogger at Elephant gave my voice a stable home when everything else around me was changing. It also connected me to a network of feedback I never imagined! Readers were so receptive to my articles it really surprised me. I found the comments so encouraging and inspiring, that they gave me confidence on the days mine waned. I learned that my writing voice is another way I can reach out and touch others, besides my art. This made me so happy.
I am very grateful to Bob for having invited me aboard!
11. Your writing is always very deep and intimate. What is the most important meaning you want to share with the reader when you write?
I think everyone needs to hear something different at different phases of their lives. I hope each of my articles speaks something valuable to someone. But the main message I would like to convey to my readers is that they are all very valuable. They are unique. The world needs them just as they are. So toss out your fears and express yourself! Surrender your gifts to life. I try to do this every day. Some days are easier than others. I have a lot to learn!
12. Is there a question you are still looking for an answer for in your life?
Yes! I have so many questions!! My mother tells me I was born asking questions. I actually feel like I don’t know much and am full of mistaken or incomplete perspectives. There is so much to learn and explore in life. I have barely just begun. I think if I had to ask one questions it would have to do with love and fear.
Why do so many of us humans hold back in love due to fear? At the same time, I also like mystery. I think it makes the universe more beautiful! I would hate to know everything.
13. I love Anais Nin and you often quote her. Who is the writer/artist/master that has inspired you most?
I do love Anais Nin’s passionate heart! I began reading her letters and autobiographical writings when I was a teenager and have always felt a close connection with her introspective nature. I have so many inspirations from so many areas it is difficult to pick just one! But maybe I will just say nature. I am extremely inspired by natural beauty and power: the oceans, the woods, animals, windstorms, the earth and all it’s amazing variety of landscapes. I am always interacting with nature. It is like fuel to my art and my writing. And people who love me. Love is perhaps the greatest creative inspiration in my life!
14. Your life’s quote.
Hmmm…I think I will pick this one from Rumi: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
Laura Stefani is a freelance Italian journalist. You can read her articles, among others, on Slowfood Magazine and Io Donna (the weekly magazine of Corriere della Sera). In 2005 she left Italy to travel around South America. Currently, she is living on a tiny island in the Caribbean, where she swims and practices yoga, writes and makes homemade pasta—learning the best she can from every living being she meets, whether a turtle, a iguana or a person.
Editor: Tanya L. Markul