Safdie, Sylvia

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SAFDIE, SYLVIA (1942– ), artist. The daughter of Leon and Rachel (Essen) Safdie, Sylvia Safdie was born in Aley ('Aleih), near *Beirut, Lebanon, into an artistic and literary family. Her brother Moshe *Safdie (1938– ) is a renowned architect. Her brother gabriel safdie (1940– ) is a poet and teacher of literature. Sylvia Safdie spent her early years in Haifa but immigrated to Montreal with her family in 1953. After graduating from Concordia University in Fine Arts, Safdie earned a national and international reputation as a visual and conceptual artist, with numerous solo and group shows to her credit. She employed a wide variety of media, from traditional drawing, painting, and sculpture to inventories of found objects, installation art, and video. Her work is in permanent collections in Canada, Brazil, Denmark, Switzerland, and the United States. With her trip to Israel in 1978, when she visited desert areas as well as older parts of Haifa, Jaffa, and Jerusalem, Safdie's art embraced her Israeli roots. Other significant art trips took her to Morocco in 1981, Mexico in 1985, and more recently to India. Her pieces are usually developed in specific series, sometimes over many years, often carrying simple Hebrew words as titles: Be'er (well), Ever (other side), Glimot (cloaks), Keren (light ray), Kever (grave), Lehav (eternal flame), Sefer (book), Tzel (shadow), Zakhor (memory). Other series titles include: Bronze/Stone, Earth Marks, Earth Notes, Conjunctions, Feet, Head, Journals, Notations, Source, Steel/Stone, Threshhold. Safdie seems to find her strongest inspiration in natural organic forms, including the human figure, and in cultural artifacts. One of her most interesting pieces is Earth (1977), an ongoing collection and installation of small vessels filled with earth of various colors and textures collected from some 500 places around the world.


J.D. Campbell, Sylvia Safdie (1987); A. Lamarre, "Sylvia Safdie," in: Parachute, 62 (April-June 1991), 37–39; (1995); R. Daskalova, "Mindful Movement: Rossitza Daskalova Contemplates the Work of Sylvia Safdie," in: C: International Contemporary Art, 66 (Summer 2000), 22–26; G. Wajcman, Autres Territoires/Other Places (2000); I. Zantovska Murray and S. Reid, Sylvia Safdie: The Inventories of Invention (2003).

[Bernard Katz (2nd ed.)]