Student art spotlight: Ida Chen


Photo courtesy of Ida Chen

This is one of Ida Chen’s portfolio pieces made of acrylic paint and ballpoint pen. It is about the curiosity of students shining through the mundane aspects of schooling.

By Kalena Yee, Arts Editor

Drawing. Painting. Film. Animation. These are distinctive and separate forms of art that many are familiar with. However, WCHS senior Ida Chen pushes the limits as she fuses all of these art forms into one creating something that is uniquely her own.

“Ever since I was little, I’ve always liked documenting – taking audio recordings of sounds on the bus, filming friends and making compilations, drawing comics of daily family occurrences – and the first kinds of short films I made were documentaries, so I think my current art reflects those interests,” Chen said. 

Chen has blossomed over the years into a highly accomplished artist, winning countless awards for her documentaries and art including first place in the C-SPAN StudentCam Documentary Competition in 2021 and 2022 and in the Congressional Art Competition Mixed Media Category in 2022. In addition, Chen’s work has also been displayed in several exhibits and festivals including the Marymount University Barry Gallery Juried Exhibition. In the WCHS community, she is the Vice President of Art Honors Society and Co-President of Student Lens, a club dedicated to video making. 

Out of all of her impressive projects, her favorite is a short documentary and animation about a birdhouse she painted and left in the woods called “Suburbia”.

“The monotonous suburban landscape makes it easy to forget that people with interesting lives and thoughts reside in these neighborhoods. This film looks to reveal some of these unseen stories. I placed a birdhouse in the woods so that passersby can drop in their musings, secrets, or dreams. This project aims to break down the seemingly perfect and boring mirage that is the American suburbs,” Chen said in the description of the piece. 

As for her favorite mediums, Chen enjoys using video, charcoal and ballpoint pen, and she often uses all of them when making animations. Nevertheless, Chen is always open and eager to try different forms of art. 

“I recently started making [three-dimensional works of art called] installations, and I think they are so cool because you can work with space, video, drawing – literally anything you want,” Chen said. “One idea I really hope to be able to realize is a walk-through map of my memories which will be a room full of drawings and videos that start out clear to represent recent memories and eventually become blurry and grainy to represent the more distant past.”

Full of innovative ideas, Chen finds inspiration from various artists like Laurie Anderson, Sarah Sze and Nam June Paik.

“All three of them are multimedia artists that cross the boundaries between video, sculpture, sound and installation art. They really inspire me to experiment with everything I can find around me.” Chen said. “I saw Laurie Anderson’s exhibition at the Hirshorn and Nam June Paik’s Electronic Highway at the Renwick, and they are insane.”

For aspiring artists, Chen recommends them to seek out and surround themselves with art in order to stimulate creative possibilities.

“Over the summer, I was super lucky to have been able to visit the exhibitions in D.C. and to have had access to art books and DVDs at the library,” Chen said “The more I saw and learned, the more inspired and excited I was to create.”

Exposing herself to art in different and unexpected places allows Chen to show her original artistic voice. For Chen, art acts as a method to express herself in ways that words are unable to. 

“[Art is] really just super fun. When I think about art and all the incredible work and people out there it’s really exciting,” Chen said. “I would also say [visual art and film works are] the best way for me to communicate my ideas.”