New York-based artist Jeremy Silva didn’t set out to be a glassmaker; in fact, he started Honua without any formal training at all. But what started out as a special birthday gift for his husband–interior designer Santiago Tomas–has turned into a five-year line of 50 pieces and counting.
Drawing directly on his childhood in Pahoa, on Hawaii’s Big Island, Silva sees his work as a way to reconnect to that time. To create each handmade and one-of-a-kind piece, the artist starts with colors plucked straight from shots he has taken of Hawaiian sunrises and sunsets reflecting on the ocean, and, once made, incorporates an arrangement of natural materials like driftwood, black sand, and Bulbosa air plants inside. For as thoughtfully arranged as these pieces are, the inspiration for them, Silva’s favorite beach, Kahena, is somewhat bittersweet. “The reason I am so obsessed with that beach is that it is slowly disappearing, and will probably not exist within the next decade or two. This is my way of keeping the beach’s memory alive once it’s gone.” This love of his environment and culture is also the source for the line’s name; “Honua” is Hawaiian for Earth.
While his pieces typically range from 6 to 36 inches in diameter, Silva is always looking towards larger sizes and further experimentation. It takes 3 to 6 weeks per sculpture for Silva to prepare the designs and for his team of glassblowers at Brooklyn Glass to bring them to life. “Were constantly trying to push the boundaries of what glass can do. It’s amazing they survive my unique process at all!”
With interest from Bergdorf Goodman, as well as an exciting new collaboration with painter William Engel, 2016 is looking like a good year for Silva and Honua. To take a look for yourself, head over to his Midtown Gallery, open by appointment year-round.