USask graduate explores invisible illness through artwork – News

When Gabby Da Silva officially receives her fine arts degree this week, she will be one of more than 3,200 graduating students from the University of Saskatchewan (USask) during Spring Convocation.

Da Silva said it “feels amazing” to mark the end of her undergraduate journey and to celebrate her achievements alongside her peers.

“Sometimes I can’t even believe it,” said Da Silva, who focused on digital and integrated practice during her Bachelor of Fine Arts (honors) degree in studio art.

“I’ve been here five years, and it was a long five years. I lost my strength and the ability to speak and walk; I got diagnosed with a neurological disorder. I switched majors. I regained my strength. I fell in love and found myself, found my voice, ”she said.

“I found something I’m passionate about that I want to do forever. Sometimes I was so low that this milestone seemed forever out of reach, but I am so proud for making it this far. And I couldn’t have made it without my family and all those who pushed me to want more in life — thank you. This is just the beginning. ”

Da Silva, who was born and raised in Saskatoon, completed high school at Holy Cross High School in 2017 prior to beginning her studies at USask’s College of Arts and Science. Her university experience wasn’t always easy; the effects of a rare neurological disorder often left her feeling exhausted.

In January 2020, with the aim of recovering from the fatigue she was feeling, Da Silva decided to reduce her course load to three classes. Those three classes were all related to art, and that’s when she found her passion.

“I’ve always loved making art since I was young. It was that semester I took my first video art class — ART 230 with Lisa Birke — and it changed my world forever, ”she said. “I switched my major to a Bachelor of Fine Arts in studio art that term.”

Da Silva said she felt encouraged and at ease in the Department of Art and Art History. She also felt supported by her professors and by university programs, such as Access and Equity Services (AES).

“Your professors are there for you,” Da Silva said. “I am naturally a very shy kid, but it’s something I really learned once I was sick and had to join AES. As a student of AES, you are expected to personally tell your instructors that AES is required, which in the end helped me realize and accept that it’s OK to take up space; my own personal needs are valid. Talk to classmates, make friends, share your stories; being vocal can aid in your success. ”

As an art student, Da Silva became involved in several art-related organizations and events. In 2021, she worked as a communications and curatorial assistant at AKA, the artist-run center in Saskatoon, through the Young Canada Works program. As part of her employment, Da Silva had the opportunity to create a digital project related to the history of AKA. She continues to remain active with the center as a member of the collective.

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