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Sou da Bahia

sou da bahia art

From papier-mâché masks to graffiti murals, the art of Bahia, Brazil, is captured in Sou da Bahia, a student exhibit and feature-length documentary.

It means, “I’m from Bahia,” but Sou da Bahia is more than a provincial descriptor. In the state of Bahia, Brazil, it’s a declaration of pride.

So says illustration major Houston T. Trueblood (’09), who, accompanied by his illustration-major wife, Megan Smart Trueblood (’10), and fellow fine arts students J. Christian Jensen (BA ’09) and Nick E. Stentzel (BA ’09), traveled to Bahia to capture the essence of that phrase for their senior capstone projects. Both Stentzel and Trueblood served LDS missions in Bahia; as each pursued art at BYU, the distinctive art of Bahia lured them back.

Once home to a major African slave-trade port, Bahia is a cultural nexus. Building walls are canvases, rhythms pulse on handmade drums, and color spills out of open-air markets. Though many live in less-than-desirable circumstances, Bahians’ art is vibrant and energetic, says Trueblood: “The people there are affected by the art on a day-to-day basis. . . . They draw strength from it.”

With grants from BYU’s Office of Creative Activities and the Laycock Center for Collaboration in the Arts, the students immersed themselves in Bahian culture, recreating the vitality they found there in a Harris Fine Arts Center gallery in September. The multimedia exhibit featured the students’ photos, paintings, and film clips alongside the work of Bahian artists, who are brought to life in Jensen’s feature-length documentary, Sou da Bahia,which is airing on BYU Television International throughout October.

“Our idea was to show their inspiration [and] the objects that inspired us,” says Trueblood, “and give you a cue: ‘How does this inspire you?’”

web: For information on when Sou da Bahia is airing, or to watch the program online, visit