“LET HER SPEAK” is written in capital letters on a protestor’s sign. “YOU’RE NASTY” is scrawled across city gates. A flag emblazoned with the words “BULLETS WON’T STOP HIM” flies high above a gathering of tents. In my latest series of papercuts — premiering at Brave New World Comics in Newhall on April 8, — the diverse and passionate voices of America are front and center in my most politically informed series yet.
I am a Santa Clarita artist whose work is a mash-up of traditional sources and contemporary story-telling techniques. As an artist I re-contextualize bits and pieces of my childhood comic book collection to create works with strong lines and bright colors that offer new insights into our oldest stories.
My latest body of work explores the political unrest and profound fractures within the American psyche. Through twelve skillfully and poetically rendered works, I recast comic superheroes of diverse backgrounds (First Peoples, Latino, African-American, Muslim American, LGBTQ, and Japanese American) to examine questions of identity, power, and courage.
I didn’t originally envision the series as protest art, but rather a study of the ancient Twelve Tribes of Israel. The tribes were not originally one people, but different peoples who came together with common interests and common goals. In working with the tribes, I found there was so much I wanted to say in response to what I’m seeing around me today. I see people who fear and mistrust anyone who’s not just like them, but my idea of America is a place where our differences make our country stronger and better. My versions of the twelve tribes incorporate minority super heroes as an exploration of the diversity of voices that make up America. It’s about acknowledging the strength and power of each of us to be a hero.
By starting with the Twelve Tribes, and building into an exploration of a much wider story, I used the prism of my own history and my process of collage work to try to organize, make sense of, and ultimately put back together the torn pieces of the American dream.
An exhibit of my work will be on display at Brave New World Comics, located at 22722 Lyons Ave., in Newhall. The exhibit begins on April 8 and runs through May 6, with an opening day reception from 7-10 p.m.
Editor’s note: For more on Isaac Brynjegard-Bialik, please visit his website at www.NiceJewishArtist.com.