Ayda Girma: An Artist with a Message
by Tseday Alehegn

Ayda Girma, a recent graduate of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, has already made a name for herself in the world of graphic design. Her impressive portfolio spans areas of print, photo, and web design. Her artwork includes a diverse range of products - from theater posters and fliers for marathon events, to a family book, invitation packages for a Red Cross event, and brochures for schools.

Asked when she started her passion she responded, "I loved art since grade school and started thinking about it more seriously in high school. I went to an art school that didn't require us to declare a major. This enabled me to take diverse classes ranging from graphic design to painting to photography/film and printmaking. So right now I work as a graphic designer and also work with photography and printmaking." She chooses print as the medium she enjoys most and says, "I love print, because I love the physicality of paper." On the other hand she also appreciates "the power and possibilities that the web has."

Ayda jump-started her art career by choosing to study art in college. "I went to a school where everyone who gets in gets a scholarship," she states, "so it was easy to convince my mother that I was going to art school since she didn't have to pay for it! I also knew I had to make a living so I took some design classes while I was there." Ayda obtained her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in 2002. "My point," she says "is that there is always a way of getting what you want!"

A reoccurring theme in her artwork is the concept of 'Diaspora'. "The social message that I would like my art to have would be simply the value of culture and diversity," she tells us, and this is evident in the way she blends afrocentric designs with mainstream American culture. "My message would be to keep dreaming large and realize that we, Ethiopians living in the Diaspora should think about our homeland as a place to invest not just our money but our experiences and our educations," she asserts. Ayda is currently working on a website for a communications company in Addis Ababa as well as on concepts for a bilingual children's book.

Ayda continues to motivate herself to excel in the arts by being around like-minded people. "I am motivated when I see people working on their art," she says. In the past Ayda has also been involved in the Saturday Outreach Program where she co-taught art graphics classes to New York high school students. She also works with fellow artists and displays some of her artwork on a collaborative online website called interconnex.org. Although the website was set up amongst her close group of friends, "the idea is that this website can grow to have many more visual artists who have similar goals as us" she shares. From there Ayda and her collaborators hope to participate in exhibitions or present their work in publications. Her latter dream has come true as she shares her enthusiasm and her accomplishments with Tadias Magazine.

To learn more about Ayda and to view more artwork please visit www.interconnex.org

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