Napkin Sketch 004: Jeremy Silva by Danei Cesario

Jeremy Silva, is a talented New York-based sculptor. His artwork can be described in a multitude of ways: glass sculptures, living eco-systems, recreated memories, sculptural seascapes, or even three-dimensional paintings. They are inspired by the hues + forms of his childhood in Hawaii. To allow for optimal creative interpretation, Jeremy does not name nor define his works.

Location: Manhattan, New York

1.       Beverage of choice?

I love Iced Black Tea Lemonades.

2.       What are you best known for?

My sculptures.

 

3.       How did we meet?

Through Instagram.

4.       How did you get here?

I was born + raised on the Big Island of Hawaii in a large Catholic family. Because I was gay, I struggled with a lot of bullying + religious guilt. To escape it all, I would venture into nature to hide +be alone. It was my way of finding peace.  Very naturally, I realized how everything around us is connected + alive, everything was conscious to me.   Because of this connection I felt, I started to see how we were/are treating the planet in the wrong ways. I saw how we just take, take, take, without love or understanding of everything's role in our environment. I could see how, for me, religion poisons our minds +views of the world in so many ways that I can't even write here.

I knew from a young age that one day, I would figure out a way to share with the world how I saw +experienced these things. I've always loved music, especially Madonna.  She is like a mother +muse to me in so many ways. She gave me the strength + courage to get through a lot of things.  Her story on moving to NYC + becoming this huge artist really inspired me. I would always dream that one day, I would move to NYC +be an artist just like her but in my own way to tell my story— + it all really happened for me. I moved to NYC in a very similar way 18 years ago + eventually became my own artist. I found my own voice in the world. 

 

5.       What are you compensated to do (job)?

I am a full-time contemporary artist.

 

6.       What do you like to do?

I love giving in-person talks with people + inspiring them through my art + life stories. + I definitely love to spend time in my studio working!

7.       Can you suggest a book?

My favorite book of all time is Christopher Hitchen’s God Is Not Great, How Religion Poisons Everything. It confirmed all of my own thoughts + views on religion in a way nothing had before.

 

8.       What is the best lesson you have taught someone?

Not really sure I can say for sure if I have ever taught anyone a lesson. But if I did, I would hope it would be to open their eyes to the magic that is around them, to see that everything is conscious + deserves love + respect!

 

9.       Where do you go to find inspiration?

Personally, I love to go back home to the Big Island of Hawaii for inspiration. The ocean, animals, plants + the volcanoes. It’s a very magical place for me. 

 

10.   Favorite city and why?

NYC of course! It's like the center of human culture. You can find every kind of person from every place on Earth doing all kinds of amazing things here. I love how driven people are here, it's not a place for the lazy. I am a very driven person, so I thrive on its energy! I have traveled the world + there is nowhere like it.

11.   What is your fondest memory?

As an adult, meeting a female humpback whale eye-to-eye off the Kona Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. It changed my life + shows through all of my work! There was this incredibly old + ancient wisdom in her that I felt. She was as curious about me as I was about her. The story leading up to that meeting was simply magical, but I can't write about that here as it would be too long +needs to be told in person to fully understand.

 

12.   What advice would you give to future generations?

Honestly, I don't think there will be that many future generations left. I feel we are destroying things faster than we will be able to save it all. But if there are future generations, I would say to treat the planet + everyone in it with as much love + respect as possible, that we are all connected to everything around us. I would also say that I am sorry my generation has left such a mess [laughs].

13.       What would you tell your younger self?

That I did it, I was able to find that voice in the world I wanted so badly as a child.

 

14.   Who mentored you and what did they teach you?

My best friend Jeff Zhu. If it were not for him, I would not be where I am today. He helped bring me to NYC from Hawaii right after 9/11 when I was basically homeless there (a very long story). He taught me so much about how to survive here + introduced me to so many things that I would have never found on my own. He literally showed me the world as he loved to travel + we went all over the place, from Argentina to China. Those experiences really made me who I am today + I will be forever grateful!

 

15.   Message in a show or film that resonated with you. What was the film, what was the message?

Hmm, Madonna’s 2005 documentary, I'm Going To Tell You A Secret was very inspiring. For me, it was about finding your own voice/light in the world. About how we are all connected + how we need more love in the world.

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Napkin Sketch 003: Lance Jay Brown by Danei Cesario

Lance Jay Brown, FAIA is the current President of Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization, former AIA New York President, founding co-chair of Design for Risk + Reconstruction Committee, + the 2007 recipient of the Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education for his years as a professor at the City College of New York.

Location: Manhattan, New York - Coffee Shop

1.       Beverage of choice?

Vodka, straight. Preferably Belvedere.

2.       What are you best known for?

My voice.

 

3.       How did we meet?

Seminar, in your Thesis year at City College.  It’s a course I have been teaching since 1984 + I taught it to you in 2010.  Your project was on the history of architecture in Birmingham. 

4.       How did you get here?

My people come from the desert, but today I walked here from West 22 Street.

 

5.       What are you compensated to do (job)?

To be an architect + to educate.

 

6.       What do you like to do?

Currently, I like to use a chainsaw + I’m getting the hang of it.

 

7.       Can you suggest a book?

Meeting with Remarkable Men.  One Man Caravan is also a wonderful chronical of self; it was given to me by a student, Jason Lang.

 

8.       What is the best lesson you have taught someone?

Think positively.

 

9.       Where do you go to find inspiration?

In books. In Mongolia as well, because nothing is everything there.

 

10.   Favorite city and why?

New York City is the best city in the world.  It is the most creative + enamored, but it is not the most beautiful.   The beauty is in the ugliness.

 

11.   What advice would you give to future generations?

Take care.

12.       What would you tell your younger self?

Don’t worry.

 

13.   Who mentored you and what did they teach you?

I would have liked one. I did not have a mentor per se, but I had a great facilitator.  When I was at the Cooper Union, I had a professor for mechanical engineering who wrote a recommendation letter for the Fulbright Grant on my behalf.  It allowed me to go to Paris after Harvard.  When I came back, that professor was the Head of Princeton’s Architecture school.  He later became the founding Dean at the City College.  Bernard P. Spring was directly involved in many of the opportunities I got in the 1960s + 1970s.

 

14.   Message in a show or film that resonated with you. What was the film, what was the message?

Cold Mountain, when Renee Zellweger’s character says, “If you need me, here I am”. 

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Napkin Sketch 002: Annya Ramirez by Danei Cesario

Annya Ramirez is a Director at Marvel Architects. She is originally from Puerto Rico + is actively involved in managing both Marvel’s New York + Puerto Rico offices, especially as they work to rebuild the island after Hurricane Maria.

Location: Puerto Rico, Marvel Architects San Juan Office

1.       Beverage of choice?

Coca Cola and Ice

2.       What are you best known for?

Consensus

 

3.       How did we meet?

We met IRL (in real life) today, but we have crossed paths through the AIA New York Diversity and Inclusion Committee and mutual friends.

4.       How did you get here?

How did I get back here?  I am reinforcing my commitment to my country through all the work that I do.  I want to show my fellow Puerto Ricans that there is no need to migrate to have the opportunities that I have.

 

5.       What are you compensated to do (job)?

I’ve created my job description in the past year.  I run two large projects + do the staffing for both offices.  I am a project leader/resource /opportunity manager/business developer /matchmaker.

 

6.       What do you like to do?

Swim.

 

7.       Can you suggest a book?

[She actually gave me a book by Lucilla Fuller Marvel titled Listen To What They Say]  Read this.

Also, The Power Broker by Robert Caro.  It was powerful reading that book as an architect.

 

8.       What is the best lesson you have taught someone?

With junior team members, I always say: You don’t have to change who you are to go places.  Work as hard as you can and be yourself.  That is your best asset.

 

9.       Where do you go to find inspiration?

The beach.

 

10.   Favorite city and why?

I live on two islands—New York and Puerto Rico—so I have made my own: “San York”

 

11.   Fondest memory:

Most of my best memories have to do with my father.  He was the center of any crowd, telling stories and jokes, and people always reacted positively.  If he wasn’t there, it was not a real gathering.

 

12.   What would you tell your younger self?

Not to be so worried about the future.  It works out when passion is driving you.

 

13.   Who mentored you and what did they teach you?

It was a collective of people.  As an autodidact, I collect and archive interactions, advice and lessons.

 

14.   Message in a show or film that resonated with you. What was the film, what was the message?

A League of Their Own, because it was largely about women make an opportunity happen against all odds.  The worked really hard to create a league that would be seen on par with the MLB during and beyond the time of World War II.

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Napkin Sketch 001: Olalekan Jeyifous by Danei Cesario

Napkin Sketch x Olalekan Jeyifous

Olalekan Jeyifous is a Nigerian-born, Brooklyn-based artist and designer. In May of 2000, he earned a Bachelor's degree in Architecture from Cornell University, where his focus of study was primarily on investigating the relevant potential for a variety of computer software within the fields of art, design and architecture. After graduating, he enjoyed a four-year tenure as a senior designer at the inimitable dbox before continuing on to pursue his creative compulsions full-time. Since then, he has exhibited his my artwork in venues throughout the world, as well as create architecturally-inspired visuals for a variety of amazing clients.

1.       Beverage of choice?

A very smoky mezcal

2.       What are you best known for?

My art, particularly the Coachella installation, Crown Ether.  Also, New Lagos + Shanty Megastructure

 

3.       How did we meet?

Day 3 of the Smithsonian NMAAHC symposium, Shifting the Landscape: Black Architects and Planners, 1968 to Now in September.

 

4.       How did you get here?

Uber Pool.

 

5.       What are you compensated to do (job)?

Create large scale public art + teach.

 

6.       What do you like to do?

I do what I do. I enjoy the ideation of new narratives, development + successful execution of a piece.  Daydreaming is my favorite thing, unless the execution matches the daydreaming; then that becomes my favorite part. 

 

7.       What is the best lesson you have taught someone?

To engage with contemporaries and consume without creating derivative work.  Not to work in a vacuum.  And that everyone can serve as a resource in some way, form or fashion.

 

8.       Where do you go to find inspiration?

I walk up to Eastern Parkway every other night.  It is the site for most of my daydreaming, either facing Utica Avenue or Brooklyn Museum with music in my ears.

 

9.       Favorite city and why?

New York City! It’s all here.  The proximity to so many things that I may want to partake in.  There is no reason to leave this particular city if you want to change your life; you can make it big or make it small.

 

10.   Fondest memory:

My brother + I driving around southern California + listening to music, back when I was in college.

 

11.   What would you tell your younger self?

Live more in the present.  I hated college + I hated high school.  I was always looking forward, up until I got to New York nineteen years ago.  I would encourage everyone to enjoy the process.  I played myself by not living in the present.

12.   Who mentored you and what did they teach you?

 I have three mentors that I refer to as The Matriarchs:  Amanda Williams, Hansy Better. and Nsenga Bansfield.  They all mentored our generation of black architects at Cornell.  Being three years ahead of me, they did so much for us and the other generations + they were there for us. They fixed the blind-spot that I previously had for feminism.  I realize that it must have been three times harder for them to excel as black women. 

13.   Message in a show or film that resonated with you. What was the film, what was the message?

In the zeitgeist of getting involved: No Country for Old Men.  The film shows that the things that are currently happening have always been happening + they are going to continue.  Thinking you can change the world alone is pure vanity.  Tasking a single generation to address decades of madness that has been coming to a head for ages is arrogant.  We all need to get involved and sustain that engagement over time to impact change.

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