“IDxID: New Identities,” currently on view at IDEA Odyssey gallery, is basically a show of portraits. In her exhibition statement, curator C. Davida Ingram warns that “The unseen is often at stake when we talk identities.” Ingram has embraced a definition of portraiture that is both broad and layered: works that draw out the biographical and cultural details that define a person. To be sure, there are pictures of people in this show. Zorn B. Taylor’s straightforward head shots convey the beauty as well as the seriousness and strength of women of color. Frederic Moffett’s video, “The Faithful” is a series of staged portraits of gay men in a pool hall. The grainy black and white images, stilted poses and time-worn setting impart a nostalgic documentary quality to a subject that went undocumented in real life. Robert Terry subverts the idea of the head shot, photographing the backs of bus passengers’ heads while looking over their shoulders, spying on details of their lives that are as revealing as their faces. Several works play with the genre of self-portraiture. Viewing Rafael Soldi’s photographs of objects, a bouquet of black balloons alone in a hallway, a pair of hands in the act of crumpling a map, one can feel the yearning for an absent lover. Zel Brooks’ “Threatening and Dangerous Canes,” a group of walking canes embellished with incongruous objects, are anecdotes about the absurd situations she has experienced as a disabled person. Ilvs Strauss has deconstructed family photos and reassembled them into fanciful and revealing landscapes of self.
Many group shows strain for connection to their theme. “IDxID” presents artists with diverse approaches who still manage to take part in the same conversation. Ingram concludes that “The goal is not so much to see (or be) everything, but rather to declare certain particulars that call out new ways of being…” Her exhibition acts as a kind of window into the concept behind IDEA Odyssey, “a collective and nonprofit gallery dedicated to nurturing and supporting visual artists of diverse cultures, primarily those of Asian, African, Caribbean, Latino, Native American and Pacific Islander heritage, and artists who explore culture, diversity and identity in their work.”
IDEA (International District Engaged in the Arts) was hatched in 2010 by three Asian American photographers and opened its first show in July 2011. There are currently six Asian and Latino members working in painting, printmaking and photography. According to Carina del Rosario, one of the co-founders, IDEA Odyssey is actively recruiting members who would increase the range of cultures and artistic media represented. Members contribute a monthly fee and time staffing the gallery in return for exhibition opportunities. There are two levels of membership: full-time members make a higher financial and time commitment and receive an annual solo exhibition; both full and part-time members take part in group shows. Additional funds come from grants and private donors. The Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDPDA) provides the gallery space on South Jackson, the International District’s main street. The gallery’s schedule could support up to 20 artist-members. “IDxID: New Identities” is one of two open-call group exhibitions per year that introduce new artists to IDEA Odyssey and to Seattle.
“IDxID: New Identities” showcases through June 28 at IDEA Odyssey, 666 S. Jackson St. Hours and information at www.ideaodysseygallery.com or by calling (206) 462-1359. There will be a closing reception from 5 – 8 p.m. on June 28.