Bryant Sina was once a prolific local graffiti artist, but you wouldn’t guess it when you enter his home studio, or, as he calls it, “The Dungeon.”
Maybe it’s the taxidermy butterflies and beetles that adorn his walls, the sculpted gazelle head protruding above his book shelf, the photo of a dead bird on his computer wallpaper, the four bearded dragon lizards running around in two glass tanks or the 23-year-old sitting in the middle of it all, painting a wooden planter. It seems like Sina could be anything but a vandal.
And like a snake, Sina is sloughing off his former skin by heading in a new yet primitive creative direction.
“This is me trying to get back to Mother Nature, hunters and gatherers,” he said.
“Graffiti gave me the dedication, passion and excitement for art,” Sina said. “My work now is more toward finding my roots. My parents were in tune with nature. They lived off the land.”
His latest collection will be featured in &THEM Collective's exhibit opening Saturday, Aug. 20 at . He is one of five artists featured in the show, which also includes work by Laura Ho and Turtle Wayne of Union City. The event is a sort of homecoming for Sina, who held his first solo exhibit at Paddy’s in 2008.
Sina’s new work includes wooden planters, along with sculptures of rabbits with their skulls exposed and geoboards — wooden boards with nails and rubber bands used to teach children how to explore shapes — with animals painted on them. The shapes represent an indecipherable animal language.
“This whole series is about animals and how we don’t really understand what they’re trying to say,” he said.
During Saturday’s opening reception, the artists will color with children. He may even let the children interact with his art and create the rubber band shapes on his geoboards, he said, though they may shy away from his bunny sculptures.
“It’s going to scare them,” he said. “But it’s kind of like a science class. ‘This is what a skull looks like’ … It’s nothing to be afraid of.”
The art Sina is creating today is worlds apart from what you might find on his website.
In his previous gallery work, remnants of graffiti lingered in his pieces, which fused with traditional portraiture and twine on wood to create a unique visual experience. Now, his art is becoming more hands-on.
“Like life, you go through different phases,” he said. “It’s progression.”
“I want my art to be not just an art piece but something functional,” he said. “It’s breaking away from just painting; it’s three-dimensional.”
While Sina’s latest work is a means to connect with his own history, the irony is that his parents don’t strongly support his pursuits, he said.
“I have to prove to them that there’s a career in art,” he said.
The youngest of three, Sina is the black sheep of the family. Both his older brother and sister graduated from DeVry and work in the tech industry. Much to the dismay of his parents, Sina attends California College of the Arts.
Sina’s parents raised him in a traditional Filipino household and wanted him to go into the medical field.
“Why would I want to do something that’s not satisfying to me?” Sina said.
Instead, Sina’s taking his art day-by-day. He has hopes to piece together his various styles into one, to continue to progress, to eventually show his work in large galleries and museums.
Until then, the local coffee shop will do.
“I’m just a student,” Sina said. “There’s so many things to learn.”
Bryant Sina’s work is featured in &THEM’s House Blend exhibit, opening Aug. 20 at Paddy's Coffee House. For more information on Sina and his work, visit http://bryantsina.carbonmade.com.