photo courtesy Simon Silva
By Angel Cardenas, Courier Staff Writer
Renowned artist Simon Silva gave a presentation to students in the Upward Bound Trio Program Feb. 7 at the Veterans Memorial Building in Fremont. As a student in the Upward Bound Program, I was lucky enough to attend this event. Upward Bound, in general, takes low income families and helps students grades in high school and get into college.
Going into the presentation I thought it was going to be boring and my clothes were going to get dirty, but I was way wrong. When I arrived to the room I saw my fellow students watching old America's Funniest Home Videos programs, and I thought to myself this is going to be interesting.
When Silva finally got up to present, he talked about his childhood, when he worked many hours in the fields, and traveling back and forth from LA to Washington to work for as much as he could. In his own words, "I hated it".
Since he came from nothing to achieve all that he has today, Silva knows anyone could be anything if they work at it. Silva is the first to go to college in his family and graduate thanks to his natural born skill. His family had many artists but not one thought that it could turn into a profession.
"It was more of a hobby" said Silva.
His gift has lead to many paintings, like “Un Dia De Campo” and “Los Compadres”. All his paintings have some story to them and usually the story relates to life experiences.
“My images are simplistic, powerful, beautiful, and about the Chicano culture,” Silva
says on his website, www.simonsilva.com. “I have used these images—scenes I used to be ashamed of—to empower myself and other Chicanos.”
After his lecture, Silva had us do some workshops like drawing anything that came to mind and using Play-doh to make some play-doh kids and gives them a future. These children represent what this one person could be no matter who is his parents.
Silva talked about his favorite books and movies that changed the way he looks at things. October Sky, a film in which some high school students try to launch a rocket into the sky and the movie Crash which has racism, segregation and stereotyping. All these movies have a story and to Silva, “they speak to me more than anything else”.
At the end, Silva raffled some items and I was lucky enough to get his book, Small Town Browny, which speaks about framer workers and their experiences. He then took time to sign anything, give us advice, like follow your dreams and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. I am honored to have met him and has taught me anyone can be successful.
Silva has motivated people throughout the country though his art, voice, and life. His has another book in the works and everyone should look forward to it.