Mai Ide is a Japanese-American textile artist based in Portland, Oregon. She tries to elucidate the relationship between the potential ideal and persistent, traditional constraints around gender identity, ageism, and racism that she has observed in both Japan and the United States. Merging recycled material and abandoned objects to embody the implications behind her work, she unfolds layered social complexities. Growing up, Mai spent a long time with her grandmother, who collected and cherished old fabric and daily commodities such as paper, pottery and furniture, reusing, upcycling, and mending them. She was always encouraged to not buy new things and make her own. To make and transform things by hand is Mai’s core value. 
Growing up, I spent time with my grandmother, who collected, cherished, mended, and reused old fabric and daily commodities such as paper, pottery and furniture. She always encouraged me to make things by hand, which has become one of my core values. In traditional Japanese culture, objects are valued rather than treated as disposable. In my process, I repurpose and reclaim discarded material and objects as a way to confront an unsustainable consumer culture. My work asks the question: what happens to consumers when they so thoughtlessly buy and discard material objects? 
I marry recycled material with abandoned objects to embody the layered complexities  materialism and identity. An assemblage sculpture is a collision of material and immaterial artifacts. Through my art, I try to elucidate the relationship between the ideal and reality by reimaging common icons, such as a shopping cart or a flag, that represent capitalist economy. As a designer who comes from a lineage of seamstresses, I think of fabric descriptively. I often choose dissonant textures and qualities to meditate on the social problem of inequity between races, classes, and genders. 
 Fabric functions both practically and symbolically. We wear clothing to protect our bodies from the weather, and we use it as a sign of our social class or in protest to it. Fabric can tear, grow thin with use. It is fragile, elusive, and ambiguous. These qualities, along with the stitching I use, reflect my artistic themes associated with domesticity, femininity, and spirituality.  
Making clothing out of fabric is classically a female duty that is often undervalued. But the inherent strength of fabric is that it is easy to modify, alter, and recycle. As a child, when I wore repurposed clothing, I appreciated it came from my family members. I used to keep an old business jacket of my father, and when I touched it, I felt connected to him. 
In my assemblage sculptures, I incorporate many used materials. Their scuff marks speak to the journey of time. Once these objects are reborn to something new, viewers can interact with people of the past just as I interacted with my father when I embraced his business jacket. Interaction with materials allows me to connect with old memories, ancestors, and the future. 
Not only does fabric speak to my values, but also the composition I tap into. The warp and the weft embody a family structure that is core to who I am. These iterations depend on one another just as I depended on my parents as a child, as now my child depends on me. As an Asian American who comes from a collectivist culture, I feel that everyone's happiness is my happiness. The process of mindlessly weaving recycled materials into abandoned objects, as the weft into the warp, is my bliss.
My artistic practice is an opportunity to disrupt and transform social dynamics and institutions. Synthesizing those discarded objects symbolize the alienation marginalized people experience in the United States.  
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