Nourishing Artists, Literally: An Interview with Soomee Suh of Ninja Bubble Tea

Soomee Suh, co-founder of Ninja Bubble Tea, discusses entrepreneurship, the value of community and why she wanted to support Cre8tiveYouTH*ink’s latest project

Soomee Suh organizing the counter at Ninja Bubble Tea

Soomee Suh organizing the counter at Ninja Bubble Tea Photo: Vince Maximin

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Meet the Apprentices Part 4

Each week, we will interview members of The Art School Without Walls, Vol. 6 to learn more about the apprentices, their journey as artists and their aspirations

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Vince Maximin Photo: Vince Maximin

Vince Maximin
Photo: Vince Maximin

NAME: VINCE MAXIMIN

AGE: 21

JOINED Cre8TiveYouTH*INK: 2010

Vince is one of the first Cre8tiveYouTH*ink members, working on every one of the group’s projects to date. He joined the group as a sophomore at the Brooklyn High School of the Arts. As he practiced graffiti and street art from a young age, this current project is close to his heart. Vince is currently a second year student at Parsons with a focus on fine arts. He hopes to bridge his interest in street art with his studies, which stress a more traditional focus on painting, drawing, and sculpture.

 

What has been your favorite part of working on the project?

Getting to see everybody since I haven’t gotten to work with them in a while. I’ve been waiting. Jerry told me about the project way back in August, so ever since then I’ve been waiting. I was like, c’mon Jerry!

Can you talk about your street art?

I started graffing in 2005 when I first came to the country from St. Lucia. A mural by my elementary school caught my interest. So, I started practicing and just randomly met people. I would be writing and I’d see someone else, we’d set up a crew, all of that. Then I started doing murals in 2009 with Groundswell Mural.

What is your other artwork like?

My subject lately has been death, Dia de los Muertos. I guess I became interested in it after my mother died. It’s my fuel for creating art, the curiosity of what happens to us after death. At Parsons, the fine art department is very conceptual, so most of my work is figurative.

Are you interested in the conceptual elements of art?

Yes, I’m interested in the conceptuality. In school they teach us what stuff means. It’s not just about whether it looks cool. It’s finding the meaning, talking about the paint strokes. It gives the work more meaning to know more about why the artists did what they did and what’s behind it. For example, I like Basquiat more now, knowing about why he painted what he painted.

Where do you see yourself and your art going in the future?

Right now I have been trying to get out of the gallery scene actually. I want to make art thats more accessible to non-artsy people. When I take pictures here I try to capture the happiness and the love and joy of the artists. I’m more interested in that than what’s going on in a gallery.

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Cynthia Martinez Photo: Robin Cembalest

Cynthia Martinez
Photo: Robin Cembalest

NAME: CYNTHIA MARTINEZ

AGE: 21

JOINED Cre8TiveYouTH*INK: 2013

Cynthia joined the Cre8tiveYouTH*ink team just last summer while she was an incoming sophomore at Queens College. She is currently a junior at Queens College majoring in Art Education, which combines her interests in teaching and fine art. Cynthia knew about the group from her time at Brooklyn High School of the Arts. She met Mista Oh while doing SAT prep but did not join the group until a few years later. She has been a valuable team player ever since.

Are you inspired by the artists you’re working with on this project?

I found Chris Stain’s story inspiring since we grew up in similar neighborhoods. But unlike Chris, I started making art in school, rather than going out into the street. I guess creativity and inspiration are different that way. Some people get more inspired from street art, which makes sense to me.

What makes you want to teach?

My experience is with young kids. They’re easier to teach because they’re so eager. I started when my sister had her baby. I started teaching him with art materials and now he loves painting! I got more experience afterwards with the Studio In A School program, teaching during the summer at campsites, for 1st graders to 5th graders.

Who are some of your favorite artists at the moment?

Mostly, I have a variety but my all time favorite right now is Jeremy Geddes. His paintings are crazy. They’re oil paintings. I see inspiration in them. Oil painting is something new that I’m doing more of now. I prefer portraits of people’s faces, with all the different expressions they can make.

What is some advice you would give to younger artists?

Just keep pushing. Do what you love. Don’t stop. It’s important to find a group, to talk to people and get yourself out there.

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Crew Chief Chris Photo: Vince Maximin

Crew Chief Chris
Photo: Vince Maximin

NAME: EVAN ORION (CHRIS)

AGE: 22

JOINED Cre8TiveYouTH*INK: 2010

Chris was one of the founders of Cre8tiveYouTH*ink and is one of the Art School Without Walls Vol. 6’s crew chiefs. Discovering a love for art early on, Chris joined Mistah Oh’s SPARK Program to visit galleries and artist studios when he was a senior at the Brooklyn High School of the Arts. From there, the burgeoning club began to work on murals and public work projects before becoming the Cre8tiveYouTh*ink program it is today. In addition to his responsibilities as crew chief, he also teaches Parkour and Tricking.

Do you feel differently now as crew chief than when you started?

I’ve always felt like I was helping run the show but it wasn’t until the LES project that I felt more of a responsibility. These are kids that are younger than me but they’re also the kids that were in my school. I’m a representation of them and they’re a representation of me. I was sneaking into art class teaching them, but I was learning from them also. It feels good to see them having fun.I always want to make sure they’re doing their thing.

You are also interested in martial arts, such as Parkour and Tricking. Do you see a connection between the visual arts and martial arts?

The way I see things at this point is I see it all as art and a process. If there is one thing I learned from Jerry, it’s to appreciate the process even when it sucks. And as Moise says is “it’s all just shapes.” With Parkour and Tricking, it’s all basic movements. It’s all basically walking. It’s all basic kicks. So backside 900 kick is just a tornado kick. Just like a circle is just a circle before becoming a head, or a muscle, or a car, or whatever.

So going forward do you want to teach? Integrating art?

I’m confident in my teaching ability. I have the gift to be able to explain anything to its smallest point and that’s how I got my job at the gym teaching martial arts. The people who were the most skilled didn’t know how to break it down to who we’d call a “muggle” (a person who wasn’t born with the natural ability). I feel like the top priority is to become a better person. And that’s the main thing I try to teach. There’s a community and I want to make it better.

Where would you like to see Cre8tive YouTH*ink go?

We’re kind of growing up and we all want to be independent artists. We want to eventually contribute with our own pieces. We’re a talented group. We’ve shown that at the Influx project. And of course we need to find new kids. We can’t be Cre8tive YouTH*ink alone. The family has to grow.

-Nicole Casamento

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