May 22, 2013

Maxine Syjuco: Child of Art

Artists are the select few with the gift of interpreting and bringing new life to the nature of things around us.

At first glance, Maxine Syjuco would strike you more as an artist's muse: she has an allure that captivates the senses of people around her, drawing them more to her with her naturally effervescent character.

Though not just a muse, Maxine is credited as one of the youngest and most promising artists of today. Maxine has already translated her deep passions for her own artistry in different mediums. Her family is quite well-known, dwelling in diverse forms of arts and expressions. Growing up around art and artists, it was inevitable that she imbibe the creative lifestyle around her. 

Having such a childhood provided her with a wonderful opportunity to bring the best out of her. Still, this is not the case for some children who have an innate talent waiting to be discovered. With this in mind, Maxine established her own art school called "The Little Picasso", to serve as a venue for her to teach and let children be involved in their artistic journey early. This lead me to inquire a few details, and pick the mind of one the youngest and most promising artists today.

Growing up, what were the major influences that directed you to the path of becoming a young artist?

Both of my parents, Cesare and Jean Marie Syjuco, are artists. As such, art was not just something that existed in our home— it was, in fact, a way of life. The culture in which I was raised was extraordinarily different from the traditional upbringing, specifically because I literally lived and breathed art. The major influences that directed me to my path as a young artist, therefore, were definitely my dad and mom. They have always been my major source of inspiration, and the passion that they pour into their art is both admirable and inescapably contagious.

What encouraged you to start "The Little Picasso", and extend your understanding on art to a much younger generation?

As a child, I always knew that my background was different and unique from that of most other children. In an instance as mundane as being seated at the breakfast table, for example, I was taught to see an orange as not merely a piece of fruit, but as a spherical and texturized object— one that, through the process of peeling, offers multi-layered possibilities of experience.

That type of thinking is precisely what has led me to my passion for sharing my love for art with children. To me, seeing life through artistic eyes is the greatest way to fully appreciate every single God-given creation around us.

What specific art form, topics or classes do you teach your students?

As a multi-media artist, I work with various mediums and through various processes. I don’t believe in confining art to strict and rigid genres based merely on a specific set of stylistic criteria. Given that, I encourage children to be mixed-media artists— providing them with all kinds of unusual materials to use in their artistic creations.

Normally, I begin each lesson with a basic overview of art history (I like to introduce them to the likes of popular artists such as Picasso, Van Gogh, Chagall, Magritte, Munch, Modigliani, Matisse, Seurat… sometimes even Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat). From there, we proceed into an analytical discussion of the said artists’ masterpieces, followed by an hour or two of creating their very own interpretations of these works.

In a nutshell, I teach drawing, painting, sculpture, mixed-media and sometimes even installation art. It’s a case-to-case basis, really, depending on each child’s specific interests, which is why I refer to my workshops as “Individualized Programs for Children’s Arts and Crafts”.

What in your opinion is the ideal age for children to start learning about art? What are factors that can bring out and enhance a child's artistic side?

The ideal age for children to start learning about art is 2 and up. It’s my personal belief that early exposure to art is an essential aspect in the formation of deep creative-thinking and open-mindedness.

A child’s environment plays an integral role in his or her artistic development. Books, movies, music… even simple conversations and body language — each of these can greatly shape and influence a child’s subconscious mind (where most creative ideas are born). Providing a child with colorful and imaginative sources of inspiration is the key to enhancing his or her artistic awareness.

As an artist, what do you see are things that people can do to encourage the younger generations to be more aware about art, and give them a better appreciation of the craft?

You know, if I had it my way, I would love to fill the world with art. On TV, for instance, it would be magical to have programs that catered to the unbiased population of artists who create art simply for the sake of sharing themselves with the world. On the radio, it would be fantastic to have a more diverse line-up of musical genres— maybe even programs that streamed live poetry readings and discussions between artists from all walks of life. And on the road, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have murals and large-scale installations in place of billboards?

But alas, given the way that things are, I believe it is of utmost importance to provide the younger generations with things that have been created in an honest manner of self-expression and freedom. To me, one of the most amazing powers of art is its ability to inspire and influence others… Like a ripple in the ocean, it can generate eternities of magical change and wonder into the current of the world.

The Little Picasso 
327 Country Club Drive, Ayala Alabang Village, Muntinlupa City


  1. Maxine is a real inspiration. Thanks for posting this, great stuff!

  2. A stunning vision- beauty, brains and more