Jefrë, public artist from Orlando, United States. Singing in the rain, 2019. Photography © Jefrë
1.Tell us what you do and your beginnings.
I’m a public artist that creates site-specific artworks and monuments that activate cities. I started as an urban designer and planner but after a life-changing event (heart attack), decided to pursue my passion for the arts. Since then, I won numerous international commissions and, after 10 years, was honored with a first solo show at the Orlando Museum of Art, titled “Points of Connection”.
2.What are your favorite museums in the world? Why?
That’s a hard question… MoMA, Tate and the Centre Pompidou in Paris are obvious choices but personally, it’s the Art Institute of Chicago, being a native Chicagoan. I remember working in the building across the street and staring out the window, dreaming I’d exhibit there. And with my first museum exhibit, it’s now possible that it could happen… one day.
3.How important are social networks in your business? And which platform do you prefer and why?
Very important. Creative professions rely on exposure. New social media platforms make our work much more accessible to wider audiences. They also engage the user– it’s important and exciting to see users and visitors post images of my work and their individual perspectives on engagement. Instagram and Facebook are my main platforms.
4.What are your future projects?
I’m currently working on a 24-story sculpture in my homeland, Philippines. That will be our version of the Statue of Liberty. In Port St. Lucia, I am creating a 100 ft sculpture – a heart that people will be able to go inside. I will be working on a 60 ft sculpture for Orlando Airport, a recent public art competition win.
It’s exciting and humbling to have won this commission against some very strong artists which I admire, such as Janet Echelman and Alice Aycock. I’ll also be the featured artist at Virgin Fest, the inaugural music festival from Richard Branson. I’ll working on 60+ sculptures that will be installed on the festival grounds. I also look forward to having my solo show travel to other institutions.
5.To create greater engagement among museums, artists and professionals, do you have any advice for cultural projects such as #MuseumWeek?
Provide platforms for different levels of artist and not just the blue-chip artists. Find more emerging artists and also look at incorporating not just brands but private sector: real estate developers and urban planners that are shaping our cities for more collaborative temporary and permanent opportunities for artists and artist integration.
Interview by Fabio Pariante, journalist
Jefrë Figueras Manuel aka Jefrë (Chicago, 1972) is a Filipino-American artist and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago prior to receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Landscape Architecture from Ohio State University. His design studio is specialized to produce in environmental art and couture landscapes with site-specific artworks in many cities including London, Miami, Rome, New Orleans, Abu Dhabi, San Antonio and also in the Bering Strait.
The artist has created numerous site-specific artworks including “Reflection” (2010) in Philadelphia’s Unity Plaza, “The Beacon” and “Code Wall” (2014) in Orlando and “Heaven’s Gate” (2019) in Manila. He is currently working on a 24-story high standing figure with arm raised, titled “The Victor”. Located at a bridge connecting the cities of Pasig and Quezon in the Philippines, the sculpture will be one of the world’s tallest artworks. Jefrë vive in Central Florida.