A Utah artist’s relocations: Navigating life’s volcanoes through art

Aug 25, 2023, 10:48 PM | Updated: Aug 28, 2023, 10:48 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Samantha DaSilva infuses her art with a pretty concrete sense of place – specifically, dirt, sawdust, and salt.

DaSilva has moved a lot during her life – 39 times, by her count. She was born in Brazil and in search of a better life, moved to Canada and eventually to the United States.

“Wherever I am, I feel like I am a guest,” she said.

Sometimes she’s moved because of what she calls volcanoes – big life events. After a separation and divorce, she left her job, packed up, and moved. That volcano motivated her to reexamine her priorities and Explore Utah artist Samantha DaSilva’s journey inspired by volcanoes, dirt, and salt, reflecting life’s impermanence.

Samantha DaSilva inside of her studio

Samantha DaSilva says she has moved 39 times in her lifetime. (Peter Rosen/KSL TV)

“To be intentional about creating a new life for myself and I knew that art was an integral part of that,” she said.

Once she moved because of a real volcano. DaSilva and her second husband built a small home on Hawaii and in 2018 lava chased them away.

“The ground shook so much that we began taking motion sickness pills because it felt like we were living on a boat,” she said. “It completely derailed our lives.”

“It really kind of throws your mind and your body for a loop when you can’t count on the ground beneath you staying still,” she added. “That’s something that we take so for granted, and when you can’t rely on that, it’s really challenging.”

DaSilva and her husband shared a home in Hawaii that they were forced to leave by lava

Lave chased DaSilva and her husband from their home in Hawaii in 2018. (Courtesy/Samantha DaSilva)

What consistency she lacked, DaSilva, who now lives in Salt Lake City, found in the art studio.

“It’s an anchor and it’s a compass. It helps me feel like I belong to where I am,” she said. “That gives me a sense of stability.”

In Utah, she has used raw materials found on hikes –red iron-rich dirt, salt from the Great Salt Lake, and sawdust from felled trees.

“Working with these materials is a way for me to gather information about where I am,” she said. “It’s just kind of showing me that nothing is forever that everything is impermanent.”

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A Utah artist’s relocations: Navigating life’s volcanoes through art