The Enlightening & Beautiful “con.Text” Portraits by Bryan Ida

Art Dimensions
3 min readSep 26, 2021
Bryan Ida

“con.Text” is a series of twenty life-sized portraits that relate historical events and documents to the lives of the subjects who are in some way connected to current times. The portraits examine a broad range of subjects including racism, civil rights, human rights, and man’s inhumanity toward man. The intent of this series is to portray individuals as the embodiment of strength and pride standing defiantly in the face of oppression and fear by a power against them. With the current social and political environment and the recent acts that repeat past abuse and injustice, I am attempting to view historic events in the context of the contemporary climate.

Every person has a history that relates to the subjects of these portraits. I have a personal connection to each subject of the portraits and as I absorb their stories of courage and triumph over oppression I am reminded we live with these truths on a daily basis and each narrative has a relevance and power all its own and they deserve to be felt and heard. A person’s story is a lifetime of experience and learning to get to this point in time and we all share in parts of the biography that depict struggle, grief, perseverance, and strength.

Detail of “Father” portrait by Bryan Ida


Gregory’s great, great, great, grandmother “Frankie” was sold into slavery at the Manchester Slave Docks in what is now Ancarrow’s Landing on the James River in Virginia in the 1840’s.

Slavery was first brought to America in 1619 in the colony of Virginia and grew into the 1700’s to become the dominant labor system on plantations.

During the 1660s Virginia adopted laws specifically designed to denigrate blacks. These laws banned interracial marriages and sexual relations and deprived blacks of property. The text is from four of those Laws from Virginia State Law “Gregory.”

60×37 ink on panel

Detail shot from “Gregory” portrait

To view more of Bryan Ida’s paintings, click here:

and be sure to tune in to the Art Dimensions “Beyond The Palette” podcast dropping on September 29, 2021 to hear my interview with Bryan.