Designing Memories | Mingei International Museum

Eric Silva is a Los Angeles-based designer whose creative vision seamlessly blends natural and industrial materials within meticulously crafted jewelry. With a career spanning over 30 years, Eric Silva's work illuminates the beauty in life's subtle intricacies, often overlooked by many. His designs celebrate the simplicity and authenticity of raw materials, creating a profound connection between the artist and those who own his creations.

What was your path into jewelry design?

Initially, ​​I wasn’t specifically interested in creating jewelry. I started with beading and got really into that. I was more fascinated with maybe stones and natural materials than the idea of trying to be a jewelry designer. I was like this and I enjoy making things you couldn’t buy or purchase. Jewelry-making evolved from my curiosity.

What kind of natural material do you use in your designs?

One natural material I use often is antlers, because it's something that I didn't have in my environment growing up. To me, it became a precious material when I found it, and was fascinated with the use of it as a tool. I think I simply figured out how to manipulate it based on my curiosity about the material. I was very interested in where it came from, how it was found, how it was shared, and how it was always used in some form of tool.

What’s special about your work?

I like to think of my work as a journey keeper. It's something you keep with you and serves as a memory for a certain time. It’s something that sparks a memory, something we find or we have – a found rock or a shell that we picked up at the beach. It takes you back to that moment at a specific time and a specific place. So you would have it, you would live with it, and it'll be with you in all your places.

I also think jewelry is one of the most intimate ways we can share creative views of ourselves. It reflects our taste, it reflects our interest. It's something more permanent than clothing because clothing so often comes and goes, but jewelry is more long-lasting, and therefore people can really connect to it.

What would you say inspires your work?

It's interesting because I don't know if I’ve been inspired by one thing or a person. I think I'm more inspired by the action – the act of getting the material and manipulating it, and then creating my own parts or components and pulling them together. I don't know if I completely design based on a certain object, it’s more based on the process.

So I might make a bunch of hoops and they might not be earrings after all. They might end up being a necklace. That's what inspires me, is kind of pulling things together and then just developing them to create balance.

What’s up next for you?

Currently, I am focusing on the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which has a prestigious craft show coming up. This event holds significance as it is one of the oldest craft shows hosted at the Philadelphia Convention Center. Additionally, I am exploring opportunities at a craft show in Richmond, Virginia. While I occasionally participate in various craft shows, my primary focus is on promoting my wholesale lines, like the one at Shop Mingei.

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