A conversation with Bryan Ida – The Santa Clara

In a statement addressed to his influential work, Ida explains that he uses, “contemporary subjects related to historical events to emphasize that man’s inhumanity towards man is universal and endless.” Ida’s goal is to promote emotion, rather than fear – to reflect “compassion, respect and a desire to right the wrongs that have been done to so many marginalized people in our society,” Ida confirms in his personal statement.

Even at a glance at one of Ida’s portraits, any viewer can grasp the complexity and nuance of these pieces. However, this level of dedication comes at a price; it’s incredibly laborious and time consuming.

“The first piece I did for con.text took, like, three solid months of direct work,” Ida recalls. “Since then, it has become much faster. But at first it took forever.

Ida begins by researching and compiling government statements, historical documents, and other forms of what he calls “institutional communication,” to use his words in reference to the stories he tells.

“Everyone walks around with a story – you have a story, I have one. There is a place in your history where you have been oppressor or oppressed. It is important to tell these stories and expose them to people who would not normally see them, ”commented Ida.

“I also like it because I research things that I would never have known.” Ida frequently speaks of her love for history and of learning from the past to avoid repeating injustice. These documents provide specific glimpses and windows to the past, giving viewers the opportunity to have an entry point into moments in history that could help shape today’s issues.

“Stories that I didn’t know I can now recite,” Idea said. “Only because I have literally written the historical text 10,000 times.”

Once it has settled on a document, Ida then begins the laborious process of transcribing it into her own unique art form.

“When I have the document, I line it up with charcoal, then line it very lightly so that the charcoal marks can disappear. Then I go around the whole thing and the text. Ida described the process as exhausting, commenting, “My hand literally trembles after doing these portraits.”

After shading with a pen, he passes it over several times until the text turns into the final image. While this is not the fastest process, the end product is well worth it.

Ida’s art captivates all viewers in different ways, but that’s why, he says, he started this project in the first place. “Everyone will respond to an article differently. But honestly, that’s the point … People come into my shows and start to cry because they just see things that touch them in different ways. It’s one of the things I love about open galleries, ”Ida said.

“Cont.text” even allowed Ida to bring back her old love of music and incorporate it into every new piece he creates. A narrative video accompanies each piece in the collection, along with self-composed musical scores to provide an audio element to the visual stories it tells.

Despite the pandemic making public access to her work a bit difficult, other aspects of Ida’s artistic process have not changed. He is still found working alone in his studio, spending significant hours of the day researching, transcribing and painting.

Ida prefers to work solo, a characteristic common to many established artists. For him, however, the preference does not come from a desire to be alone.

“I am not opposed to collaboration; I have never encountered an opportunity that forces me to do this, ”he said.

As for Ida’s next move, he hopes to continue his work on “con.text” and hopefully, as the pandemic allows, have the opportunity to share more of his work in local galleries like the museum. From Saisset de Santa Clara.

Ida also begins another multi-panel article on current social and political issues in the United States, such as mass incarceration. According to Ida, exposing the Bay Area community to these issues is the first step in initiating change. Having more students, adults and community members exposed to the current struggles plaguing the oppressed allows for an emotional connection – which will hopefully elicit a substantial response.

“I have always felt called to share the stories of others,” Ida said. “I have found that the portraits convey a sense of commonality and community shared in the stories of people’s lives. They provide a unique passage to learn from history and apply lessons from the past to solve today’s problems, ”he explains on his website.

You can currently display “con.text” on the San Jose Art Museum, or by venturing to Ida website, where he brings reflections and in-depth information on all his current projects.

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