The Ben Gunn



Zarina Silverman is a Los Angeles artist who has frequently been described as a "magical unicorn," for the unique distinction of having been born and raised in L.A. as well as her artistic talent and versatility.

Zarina's masterful use of a wide array of traditional studio materials belies decades of experience working with her hands. Some of her earliest memories are of wanting to look at and make art, and she was fortunate to have had access to public programs that supported the arts in education, along with teachers who understood the transformative power of the creative act. Her most sophisticated pieces often involve skills she first encountered in school as a child, honed over a lifetime of practice to be able to create objects of great beauty. However, she firmly believes not all art must necessarily be beautiful - to the contrary, that the artist's job often requires holding up a mirror to the parts of society we would rather not talk about, taking the unspeakable and rendering it visible for all to contemplate. Her work is in turns playful and thought provoking, inhabiting the space between the personal and the universal.

In 2002, Zarina agreed to sing backup vocals on some songs her husband had written, just for fun. The resulting self-published album, for which she also supplied the cover art, surprised everyone involved in its making by garnering radio play; thoughtful, positive reviews; and invitations to perform at festivals and other events. Though shy at first, Zarina was quickly revealed to possess a rich, powerful alto voice, eventually taking the lead in live performances and on subsequent recordings, including songs of her own composition. In 2013 she auditioned for Angel City Chorale, and sang in her first choral concert a few months later, at their 20th Anniversary celebration. She has since performed with the venerated choir at Carnegie Hall in NYC and recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London.

Around the same time as she started singing, Zarina began taking dance lessons for the first time since early childhood, and the two disciplines met in the stage act she put together with her husband and the loose band that formed around his concept. While she had initially gotten into dance as a fitness alternative to the gym, she became increasingly interested in exploring a wide range of dance styles, including Classical Egyptian, Turkish-American, Lebanese, Nubian, Uzbek, Polynesian, ballroom, jazz, tap,and even ballet. Zarina performed regularly in showcases, parades, and festivals for over ten years, sparking the personal exploration of issues surrounding cultural and social identity, body image, cultural appropriation, and stereotypes about sexuality, gender, and race, all of which have returned full circle back into the visual art she creates in her studio in Hollywood.

In addition to the visual and performing arts, Zarina has over two decades of experience in education: as a student teacher, public school teacher, private art instructor, and as a parent volunteer at the local elementary school, where she became affectionately known as "Mama Z." Her murals grace the walls of schools and homes around Los Angeles, and she is popular as a face painter at special events.