Mai Ide is a migrant from Japan, a mother, and an interdisciplinary artist, living in Portland, Oregon. She centers her life around a dream of inclusivity. She uses her art as a means of meeting and connecting with anybody regardless of gender, ethnicity, and class status through joy, happiness, and playfulness.
Her interactive sculptures can be inviting to anybody, due to their performative natures, thus resonating with many people. Also, she is a believer that art must be in our daily life, so that everyone can enjoy art everywhere.
The most important part of her art practice is actually these social relationships. As a socially engaged artist, her interactive installations nurture intimate, meaningful executions of her materials, and the colors engage with everyone. She often translates multi-layered inclusion through her art process.
Materials are integral to her artistic practice. Making clothing out of fabric is classically a female duty that is often undervalued. But the inherent strength of the fabric is that it is easy to modify, alter, and recycle. As a child, when she wore repurposed clothing, she appreciated that it came from my family members. She used to keep an old business jacket of her father, and when she touched it, she felt connected to him. Their scuff marks speak to the journey of time. Once these objects are reborn into something new, viewers can interact with people of the past just as she interacted with her father. Interaction with materials allows her to connect with old memories, ancestors, and the future.
She also salvages abandoned material with objects to embody the layered complexities of materialism and identity. Most of her materials come from thrift stores or garbage bins. She hopes that involving garbage to create art provokes recognition that garbage is not other, and instead promotes a more affinitive relationship with the human. This also resonates with the idea that homeless people are our kinship. The act of using salvaged materials is also an inclusive metaphor for anybody in the world, especially people marginalized by capitalism. These salvaged materials may partly be connected to the imperfect and open-ended quality of the reused items—people are not intimidated by the materials. Not only emotionally, but physically, they are inviting us. She consciously creates tactile and intimate involvements with the participant’s own politics.
An assemblage sculpture is a collision of material and immaterial artifacts. Through her art, she tries to elucidate the relationship between the ideal and reality by reimaging common icons, such as a shopping cart or a flag, that represent a capitalist economy. Her goal is to help achieve an environmentally sustainable, inclusive society through her art practice. Her artistic discipline plays a critical role, juxtaposing with other artists, to create a more sustainable, elastic social structure. She would try to reframe and redefine the isolated social dynamic that she sees in both Japanese and American societies.