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March 25 Art Minute: Silvia Levenson, Strange Little Girl #7 (Nena Cuervo)

Art Minute, Art of the Week, toledo museum of art
Silvia Levenson (Argentinian, born 1957), Strange Little Girl #7. Kilncast Bullseye© glass and mixed media, 2014. 41 ¼ by 16 ¾ in. Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey, 2015.41

Although she was born in Argentina, Silvia Levenson immigrated to Italy in 1981 with her husband and their young children. Levenson had been politically active since her teenage years, and the family needed to escape the oppressive regime of military dictator Jorge Rafaél Videla, during which members of her extended family were “disappeared.” Concerns of family, childhood, and displacement anxieties prompted by this forced immigration are at the heart of her work.

Strange Little Girl #7, one of a series of sculptures in glass and mixed media, addresses the fluid and sometimes discomforting nature of identity during childhood. As Levenson explains, “The world of children is still far from adults until they accept their social rules: what is good and what is evil. Those years to me delineate an era where the edge between reality and dreams is very evanescent.” For her “Strange Little Girl” series, Levenson began by making collages with photos from her youth, mixing these with animals’ heads and children's bodies, emphasizing the dreamlike and unreal—and sometimes unsettling—world of childhood. 

This work is currently on view in Levis Gallery in the exhibition Global Conversations: Art in Dialogue