We had the good fortune of connecting with Ali Silverstein and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ali, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
I’ve never separated life from work, and I understand that to be the greatest privilege — which is not to say that it’s easy. The ever-unfolding challenges of a creative life are also the source of my inspiration. My work is personal. It requires digging deep — tapping into the truest thing that wants to come forward in the moment, making space for that thing while muting other siren songs, being brave enough to do it even if it doesn’t make sense (yet), and persisting through the slog of figuring out how to present it to the world.
What I try to balance is the cycle of creative states, which follow one to the next like the seasons: “meditative” states of being rather than doing, “flow” states of inspiration and ideas (my favorite), time for making-shit-happen and getting-the-work-out-into-the-
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am motivated primarily by my desire to understand and explore the world and our human condition. I become interested in an aspect of life — romantic relationships, the psychology of architecture, the religious instinct, etc — and I use my own life to explore it, gathering information as raw material and then positing a new creation in the world that is less an answer and more a proposition or a new way of asking the question.
The biggest challenge for me has been resisting the pressure to do only one thing and brand myself in a certain way. It is against my nature to limit myself and it’s taken me a long time to shamelessly embrace a broad creativity that does not confine itself to one medium.
The more visible side of my practice is painting. In my studio I create stacks and piles of painted canvas that reflect a variety of impressions from my experience — patterns, flowers, figures, shapes, spontaneous marks — and I reconfigure these “signifiers” in new ways, often pinning or hanging sheets of cut canvas on open wooden armatures so that not only do I have the ability to combine elements side-by-side, but also front to back, creating a syntax of layers. All of this reconstructs the way it feels to me to process the world: always seeing one thing through another, partly obscured by another, affected by proximity to another — a kaleidoscope of relationships. I struggle to define this process as painting only, as just as often it feels like dance or writing.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Compared to other cities, LA is wild — sprawling, chaotic, un-corseted. One of the things that sets LA apart from other cities is that no-one walks; for this reason, exploring LA at the pace of walking reveals a new perspective and unexpected delights! I would recommend driving to an area you’ve never been, parking, and walking in any direction for as long as you want/can. When you can’t walk any further, you can uber/lyft back to where you parked.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
To Diane Schneier Perrin, Gabriella Marks, and Peter Weiss, who saw me, believed in me, and supported me endlessly to make a film — even when I must have seemed insane.