PCC Commencement Speaker Painter Simon Silva: Keep Learning, Especially About Yourself

Published : Tuesday, June 11, 2019 | 5:52 AM

Simón Silva

Education should not limit people from learning more or trying a wide range of artistic endeavors, said heralded painter and artist Simón Silva. He will deliver the keynote speech at the Pasadena City College commencement on Friday, June 14.

“I am a good cook and I like to cook,” Silva said “But people don’t say to me, ‘Why are you cooking? You will never make any money at it.’”

He said he wants to convey at the Pasadena City College commencement that people should not limit themselves. Silva said he has broken out of the mindset that keeps people from achieving their soul’s satisfaction.

Silva worked the fields with migrant workers as a youth until he was 23. He wanted to go to college, but it was something his father did not believe in. Silva wanted to paint and to be an artist.

He started at Imperial Valley College where he received his Associate Arts degree. In 1986, he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

Silva’s disciplined upbringing helped him to be successful. Silva’s renowned artwork has appeared in many distinguished places around the world. He has been married for 30 years to wife Maria and is a father to three sons: Josue, Francisco, and Emilio.

He says he grew up “tri-lingual,” communicating in English, Spanish, and through art. He is now working hard to educate people on how to communicate through art.

“Many of us have been lied to by the system to pick and choose one thing to do,” Silva said. “We’ve been lied to in that a lot of us still believe we have to hold the line to one specific profession.”

He advocates for getting to know oneself.

“A great degree of my success has come from knowing myself,” he said. “We need to get back to the curious minds we once had, that’s when we were in our heyday of learning.”

Silva is writing a new book based on the idea of how can we solve the education problem we have. And he wants people to know that unlike when he grew up, today people should be open-minded about pursuing their creative goals.

“Life is not that difficult,” he said. “The arts have taken a back seat to curriculum. We need to clarify, ‘What is art why do we even practice it? What are the benefits?

“The advice I give people generally speaking, whether they’re painting, writing or engaged in public speaking is it’s important to know yourself,” he said.

He said learning about everything and most importantly learning about yourself is key to a happy life.

“I think I’m a great example of what a lifelong learner looks like,” Silva said. “I don’t care if you’re an ‘artist,’ a teacher, a professor or a scientist, we all need to go back to the idea where learning is dynamic and fun and learning about yourself should be part of that.”

“A lot of times I’ll tell people the secret to success is ‘There is no secret,’” he said. “The secret is simply the fact you stay engaged and excited about learning. ”

“I also feel that people underestimate the value and benefits of practicing public speaking or spending time writing, drawing and painting because a lot of people are not going to go into those arenas as a profession,” he said. “Or they think it’s a conversation that goes good with a glass of wine or they don’t want to be a professional in those fields. They miss out on all of the benefits of what practicing those art forms brings to the person. It created a more three-dimensional Simon Silva.”

Silva said he will tell the PCC graduates to explore art to the fullest and don’t go with the masses.

“Learning should not be that complex. It’s not about tests. Many of us have been lied to. I read that the truth is based on who can make the best argument and I believe that’s true. If you can change people’s perceptions, I’m hoping through the keynote I can manipulate their minds in a positive way. Each and every one of the graduates are brilliant, creative and individualistic. Our greatest asset has always been there and that is our individuality.”


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