30.5″ X 17″D (Inc. Driftwood)
30.5″ X 17″D (Inc. Driftwood)
Jeremy Silva was born and raised on the Big Island of Hawaii and has lived in New York City for the past 18 years. As a multi-media artist, Silva’s work ties closely to his upbringing. Growing up as a queer person living in a religious household, Silva could only turn to nature for supports, comforts, and inspiration. His sculptures represent the enormity of earth’s power and the fine balance between peace and tumult, organic and structural, the known and the unexpected found in the realms of nature.
Most of your work is untitled, can you tell us why?
I don’t name any of my work because I feel like they get boxed in with names. It puts a pre perceived image in people minds. I like people to use their own free imaginations on what they see.
Why do you use glass as your creative medium, what is the significance?
I use glass as one of my main mediums because it reminds me of playing with hot lava as a child in Hawaii, and when it cools it looks very organic, fluid and alive to me.
I understand that you also use cement as your paints, can you talk a little bit about this discovery?
Yes, I paint on them using black top pavement paint. For years I was looking for a type of paint I could use on glass, but everything I found in art stores etc. looked cheap. One day I was sealing my blacktop driveway at my country house and when the black sealer dried on my hands like hard rock, it hit me that it just might work on glass, so I did a quick experiment, and it worked so perfectly! Not only does it not come off the glass, but when it dries it looks and feels like fresh lava rock to me. I love the fragile nature of the transparent glass and the sturdiness and opaqueness of the black, it’s like a yin and yang, the fragile and the strong, sky and earth, water and earth.
I understand that you have to pause your entire production because of the lockdown, have you ever considered experimenting with new mediums that might be more accessible?
I have had to pause blowing in new work with my team in the glass studio, but I have a few cooled pieces I have never finished that I have been working on in my personal studio during this lockdown. But yes, I have been on the search for new more accessible mediums to play with. I am wanting to do wall art of some sort, and am considering doing something on canvas, but have not been inspired enough to try anything yet. I am a firm believer that when the time is right and I am inspired in the right ways it will come to me, just like my sculptures have. I am very patient with my process, and never like to rush anything.
I have heard that you were almost scammed by a fake collector during this quarantine, can you talk a little bit about this incident?
Yes, it was a very elaborate and believable scheme. It started with an email through my website. He was looking to purchase a piece with a story of how it was a gift for his wife and their anniversary. He said he needed it quickly because they were relocating to the Philippines. I sent him my inventory, and when he chose a piece, he said he would overnight a check to me but with more money on the check that he wanted me to take out once the check cleared to give the extra to his own “ art shippers “ when they come to pick up my work, which at first seemed ok to me. But luckily, I found out it was a scheme prior to getting the check because I was telling the story to my best friend, artist David Paul kay, and he realized it was the exact kind of scheme that had happened to him prior. How it works is they send you the check, you cash the check, and it once it clears enough for me to take out the extra amount, they come right away to pick up your work and the cash. But then the bank will find out later on that it was a fraudulent check and take back the money, plus you have to pay back the extra you took out, and then you will have to prove you are not part of this scheme. And you just had your work stolen on top of it all. I am lucky it didn’t play out that way. I got the check and have reported it to the Secret Service and the bank they used on the fraudulent check. They have not been found and most likely never will be found.
Growing up as a queer person in a conservative household in Hawaii, would you say this upbringing had paved the way for your creative journey?
Yes, in the biggest way! I grew up in a very Catholic family, and a part of my family were what I believe to be very fanatic about it, like the end of the world is coming, rosary praying fanatic. I would always hear about how evil gay people were, and how they are going to hell etc. With all those guilty feelings I had inside knowing I was gay and being really bullied in school made me want to be away from it all as much as possible, so I spent a lot of time in nature alone. Just from being in the kind of unique nature that surrounded me from such an early age, the ocean, the sea animals (my fav were the dolphins), the lava flows, and a huge tropical garden I built in the back of my parents’ yard. I quickly realized, from these experiences, how alive, connected and conscious everything around us is. Because of these connections I felt, I could see how we were/are treating the planet in the wrong ways. I saw how we just take, take and take without love or understanding of everything’s roll in our environment. I could see how religion poisons our minds and views of the world in so many ways and how man made & fake it all really is.
My work is a reflection of those feelings, experience’s and knowledge. They are my voice! They are my way of opening people’s minds to who and what is around them, and hopefully get them to show the world more love and respect.
Facing a global pandemic and a structural change, as an artist, do you have any new revelation?
To be honest nothing exactly new from my point of view. But I think for the first time the rest of the world is starting to really see how truly connected everyone and everything is. It gives me hope that we might start to truly wake up and change how we live on this planet. To see the wrong path, we are one as a species. I’d love to see us work on repairing the damage we have caused. But I guess only time can tell.