Thaemus Maharriyum

Thaemus Maharriyum working on his painting of a tree for a restaurant in Chinatown. Columbus Park, Chinatown Manhattan. Friday, June 30, 2017.

Originally from 94th and Central Park west in New York City, Thaemas Maharriyum, oldest of five children, has always been a responsible man. Thameas grew up taking care of his alcoholic mother, beginning at the age of 2. In an interview he stated, “my brothers and sisters were too young and I took care of my mother.” Taking care of his mother shaped how responsible he was and how family sacrifice and helping others was a huge part of their lives. He also was the valedictorian of his senior class at Haaren High school in Midtown Manhattan, and at the end of his senior year he presented a speech about “how we are on the verge of materialism.”  

“I don’t sell my paintings, I give them with my heart.” Thaemus began to tell me about how he feels like the world and society now is full of people doing things to earn money. He said, “you have to follow your heart and do what you love. Most people devote themselves to earning money. I’m dyslexic and I came to hate school, my dad would call me stupid and threaten to beat me.” Thaemus also shared more about his father, stating that “my father was a genius. One time he and I were taking a 50 question test with many other people and he finished in less than 10 minutes. The rest of the people taking the test looked at him in awe.”


Thaemus Maharriyum working on his painting of a tree for a restaurant in Chinatown. Columbus Park, Chinatown Manhattan. Friday, June 30, 2017.

Thaemus shared, “when we lived in Yardley Pennsylvania, nature became my teacher. Nature became my salvation and my house had a creek where I would spend all my time in the water and I climbed every tree around my house.”


Thaemus became very interested in calligraphy and many people were impressed by how incredible his handwriting was. He soon realized that it was more of an art than writing itself. He said, “my first poem I wrote was 200 pages long and someone read it. I charged 100 dollars for each page. I sat down and drew my first painting which I named the “Dragon Nebula” in the 1980’s. I earned my meditative degree and I always practice my Tai Chi and paint outside.” Thaemus enjoys painting outside because of how connected he feels to the outdoors and nature even while being in New York City, which is a reason he always comes back.

Thaemus Maharriyum showing a book of paintings he made for a 75 year old couple. Columbus Park, Chinatown Manhattan. Firday, June 30, 2017.

Thaemus is only one man in a city with so many other people. New York City is home to different cultures, people, religions, and ethnicities. However, people always seem to come back and love the city and the opportunities it has to offer. To understand why people stay, come, or return to the city, conversation must happen. I talked to many different types of people in an attempt to understand what is so special about the city, and learn all types of perspectives in the many different areas of New York.

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