Lyall Harris and Patricia Silva, “?”


Game parts

“What If” and “Would” card boxes

Selected cards in sleeve, answer discs and bag

“But Perhaps” book with answer discs and verso of cards


Lyall Harris and Patricia Silva (San Francisco, CA)

game format, paper boxes, cards, transparent sleeve, braided long stitch book, sewn fabric and paper bag, leather game pieces, inkjet and letterpress
Edition of 2
6 3/8 x 10 x 2 in (game box)
Open dimensions variable

In the past year, book artists Patricia Silva and Lyall Harris have undertaken a series of collaborative book projects which have dealt with a wide variety of subjects, materials and techniques. For the collaborative project, ? (Question Mark), the artists began their exploration with bingo cards, a stack of leather swatches, a set of pages letterpressed with numbers, and two amusement park photographs.

Collaborations between these two artists are rooted in constraints they set for the process, both of materials and time, which force them to respond and work in an immediate, intuitive and exploratory way. Their process begins with one artist providing the inspiration and starting materials. These should come from the artist’s studio, such as saved remnants or quotes and ideas previously set aside. The receiving artist then works for 2 weeks, bringing the project to a “halfway” point, materials may be added or edited during this phase without straying too far from the initial supplies provided. The project is then given back to the originating artist who finishes the books in two weeks time (edition size 2). The collaborations often address issues and experiences from their shared and multifaceted point of view as mother/wife/artist/teacher/expat.

The initial materials for this project led to the development of a game, the subtitles of which are “20 Questions into The Mysteries of the Universe” and “My Incredible, Fabulous, Terrific, Delightful Adventure.” Sets of “What If” and “Would” cards were developed, which, during enactment of the game according to the “Rules of the Game,” are selected in a fashion that allows for countless combinations. Answers to the selected questions are then drawn from a game bag; subsequently, these answers correspond to a writing exercise that encourages the participant to further explore possible outcomes to the initial questions. Engaging players in a varied and unfolding way, the game itself functions as a metaphor for the participant’s question and answer experience.

Technical/material description: Games are housed in boxes, contents include paper cards, paper/Mylar card sleeves, leather/paper game pieces, sewn fabric/paper bags tied with raffia cords, handbound books with tabs for writing exercises; other techniques include photography, letterpress and inkjet printing, and reprinted appropriated materials.

In all of the joint projects to date, the finished projects seem rooted in a unified aesthetic and made by one hand. More than a set intention, this is a natural outcome of the collaboration between these two artists.