Califonia Bountiful

Dream weaver: Straw artist finds inspiration in agriculture

Jan./Feb. 2007 California Country magazine

Lincoln resident Kim Silva has a passion for creating art treasures out of straw.

Kim Silva of Lincoln doesn't need Rumpelstiltskin to turn straw into gold. Thirteen years ago, she realized that creating art treasures out of straw was her golden vision—and something she was born to do.

"When I was a little girl, I was always out in the apple orchards or in the creek or bringing home animals to care for, so agriculture and the earth and grain just inspire me," she said. "I am an agriculturist at heart."

It was at a beginning wheat weaving class where Silva—a country girl from Watsonville—first transformed a bundle of golden stems into a figure symbolizing harvest. Today she is one of the nation's most passionate advocates of the ancient art form.

Silva's own work tends to be large pieces like wall hangings. She's especially partial to the traditional harvest symbols—harvest goddesses, horseshoes, crosses—that have been passed down for generations. Many civilizations believed that weaving the last sheath of grains into a symbol captured the fertility of the fields and ensured a fruitful harvest.

Silva and her husband, Tony, live on a 10-acre cattle ranch. About 200 straw art treasures adorn their farmhouse walls, about half of which comprise Silva's collection of international art representing Belarus, Lithuania, Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Holland, Denmark, Switzerland, England, Japan, China, Taiwan, Bangladesh and Mexico.

"Kim is quite a patron of the straw arts around the world, as her collection obviously shows, but she is also very supportive of people," said Morgyn Owens-Celli, curator and director of the American Museum of Straw Art in Long Beach. "When you feel the passion of the people who have created the art as she does, then it becomes a kind of calling. I can't think of one other person in the United States who has done as much for the straw world as Kim."

(Christine Souza is a reporter with the California Farm Bureau Federation. She may be contacted at (800) 698-FARM or by e-mail at

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