Artist Spotlight: Hector Silva

"I explore themes of cultural identity, because as Latinos, we are often erased from the social portrait. and then when you add being queer to that, we can really disappear."

BY Christopher Harrity

July 30 2011 5:00 AM ET

HECTOR SILVA LA VIDA NO ES COMO PINTAN X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

The Advocate: Why are you an artist?
Hector Silva: When I was 25, I discovered my ability to draw and paint. Being completely self-taught, I feel that it is my destiny to be an artist. I have a vision that I want to share with the world. As a triple minority, being a Latino, immigrant, and gay, and also being raised Catholic, I have much to represent.

Tell us about your process or techniques.
I usually draw from photographs, but all my art comes from my imagination. I use pencil and colored pencil, mostly black and white. I find this medium very pure and democratic. Sometimes I add a touch of color. That has become my signature. I capture the play of light and shadow through my shading and my values.

How do you choose your subjects?
If there is a political topic that I feel a need to address, or new definitions of masculinity, or as simple as depictions of love and tenderness among queer people, especially people of color. Of course, I like to draw from my Mexican culture. I am attracted to those subjects. I am also fascinated by Latino masculinities — for example, the “Homeboys.”

How do you describe your work?
My work belongs in the intersections of race and sexuality, of marginalization and belonging, of speaking truth to power.

What makes a good artwork to you?
I like work that has not been seen before, new ideas, new topics. I also appreciate work that is executed well. That is what makes fine art to me.

What artists do you take inspiration from and why?
I am a fan of M.C. Escher. I think he was a genius. I love Frida Kahlo and the way she drew inspiration from her personal life. Vermeer is also a favorite of mine — I love his portraiture artwork.

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