Article for Welum Online Magazine by Jamie Rosenberg
The Artist Jeremy Silva
I had a meeting set with the artist Jeremy Silva at high noon at a little French bistro on 9th Avenue in Chelsea, NY. I didn’t know if I’d recognize him. What does a glass blower look like? It was lunchtime at this local favorite café and it was busy. Steaming bowls of mussels meuniere, onion soup and cappuccinos whizzed by me in a blur when I noticed a smiling face looking up at me. He was cleaner, younger, fresher and happier than I expected. I was there to interview him. So how does someone who used to work as a manager of a high-end lighting design company give birth to himself as a glass blowing artist.
Jeremy Silva combines glass, color and marine biology to create large exotic one-of-a-kind living works of art that seem to walk right off his table. He has developed an unusual technique for blowing glass in order to make the pieces larger, depict them in motion and imbue the glass with his signature flourishes, color and characteristics.
Jeremy moved to NYC 14 years ago at the age of 26. He worked in the design industry at a company called Artemide. It was after working there that he embarked on creating his first piece for his husband.
JR: Where did it all start?
JS: About six years ago as a birthday gift to my husband interior designer Santiago Tomas. I wanted to create something for him rather than just go out and buy him a gift. I built him a terrarium. I didn’t really know much about it at the time, but it seemed like a cool idea. I enjoyed it so much I just continued making them. Then I got really bored with what was out there, I realized that the world of terrariums was a popular thing at the time, but no matter what you do to a terrarium it just looks like a terrarium.
Jeremy started experimenting with different materials.
JS: I would walk down near the Hudson River and find driftwood and root systems from trees. Eventually I got really bored with the glass. It wasn’t moving enough for me and it just didn’t feel alive. There’s only so much you can go out and buy and I wanted it to be all mine including the glass. I contacted Brooklyn Glass. We put together a team of people and started prototyping small pieces. I got so into it; it just exploded from there. My passion was really ignited. My big breakthrough came when I blew my first prototype, and I could immediately see where I wanted to go with my work, and that it could continue for the rest of my life! That’s when all the attention to my work started happening.
Jeremy’s first piece prototype when he started doing his own glass.
Jeremy grew up on the Big Island of Hawaii, in a town called Pahoa. His family goes back five generations on the Big Island and helped to start the sugar industry that was once there. He lived minutes away from where the lava flows into the ocean from the Kilauea volcano.
JS: As a kid, I used to hike up to the lava flows and play there. I’d pick up the hot flowing lava with sticks and fling it into air or into the water. I loved to see the different shapes it would take on which is a big reason I am so drawn to glass now!
JR: Why do you think you’re so successful?
JS: Because I am obsessed with what I do! It is a passion I cannot fully explain to anyone!
JR: Where do you get your inspiration?
JS: I get my inspiration from my memories and experiences of Hawaiian nature. From sitting on my favorite black sand beach called Kahena and watching the crazy purple and pink sunsets and sunrises on the rough pacific ocean which is where I get most of my color/shape inspiration from. From swimming and seeing different shaped/colored sea creatures and coral! I once swam and met eye to eye with a very large female Humpback, which had a huge impact on my life!! I use that connection within my work a lot!!
JR: What does the art do for you?
JS: It makes me feel so naturally high. It’s very therapeutic! I wish everyone could feel the way I do when working on my art!
JR: What is your signature?
JS: Hmm, that’s a tough one! I feel like I have many signatures (lol), but I guess my bold glass colors, and shapes, and what I do with the different materials I use, like driftwood, tree root systems, and sand. I want my pieces to feel alive. They’re creatures I create from memory and imagination. I give them tentacles, organs, veins. They need to swim; they need to move.
JR: How do you align with sustainability?
JS: Everything I use is eco friendly, from the glass to the sand and driftwood I use. I don’t use toxic chemicals of any kind. Everything I use is natural.
JR: What haven't you done yet, is there something you’re aiming for?
JS: I want to do much larger pieces! So far my largest is 36" long by 17"diameter. I would also love to design a hanging installation, and maybe some wall mounted pieces.
JR: What are you most proud of about your art?
JS: I am proud of the fact that I am doing something completely unique, and that I get to share my stories of Hawaiian nature with the world through my work!
JR: What‘s next for you?
JS: I am going to be working through the Fall on new work, more experimentation with colors and shapes. I am also planning my own large show for the Spring, but no details yet.
JR: What do you do to reload energy or when not creative?
JS: I love to travel, especially back home to Hawaii. I try to spend at least 2-3 months there a year, and that really gets me reloaded!
JR: What other interests do you have?
JS: I love interior design. I love being around my husband who runs his own interior design firm (Santiago Tomas Interiors) and getting inspired from his work!
JR: What is your biggest fear?
JS: Not being able to do what I do.
Jeremy’s happiness, enthusiasm and passion are contagious. His work can be seen online at Honuany.com. We’re planning to shoot a video of his next glass blasting as well as cover his artistic process from conception to completion. He says each art piece takes about 1-2 months from start to finish. Once he blasts the glass, he lives with the piece in his studio and waits for it to talk to him. That’s when he starts experimenting with sand, tree root systems, driftwood and other naturally occurring elements. He refers to these as the organs, the veins and tentacles of his creatures. I’m looking forward to meeting with Jeremy again to shoot the video and share with the rest of you. So good-bye for now and as they say in Hawaii, “A hui hou” (Until we meet again).
Jamie Rosenberg works in the New York Metropolitan area as a freelance
Cinematographer, Director/Cameraman, Photographer & Writer.