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Artist Kim Garcia

Kim Garcia is an artist working in sculpture, drawing, and painting. Through her 2nd-generation Filipino American lens, her practice explores social dynamics and residual trauma from interpersonal relationships, community structures, and memory.

Kim comes from a background in creating collaborative community projects that often employ alternative spaces to explore studio art practices, site-specific collaboration, and museum and exhibition research.

She is the founder of The Cold Read, an online critique group and artist collective that engages gestures of care and support through writing and is one of the co-founders of after hours gallery, an art gallery in Los Angeles that hosts two-person exhibitions. Kim is based in Los Angeles and received her BA from UC San Diego and her MFA from UC Irvine.

"Through the fusion of reality and fiction, my work emerges from personal encounters, aiming to complicate narratives surrounding second-generation Filipino American histories. I delve into the intricacies of post-colonial identity, exploring themes of intimacy and influence stemming from social interactions. Sculptures form the vibrant outcome, fictionalizing personal events to probe power dynamics, trauma, and memory. Utilizing materials like medical casting tape, my artworks simultaneously display trauma and symbolize healing. Gradient colors evoke movement, while layered hues express emotional complexity. The sculptures breathe life into color, activating motion and tension. I perceive my work as a form of storytelling where the malleability of oral narratives inspires a nuanced approach to archiving personal histories. By combining sculpture, drawing, and painting, my hybrid material practice investigates enduring tensions accumulated over time, unearthing possibilities for constructing a future from a suppressed past."

Tell us a little about yourself (where you are from) and your background in the arts.

I grew up in San Diego, CA, and pursued my undergraduate degree in Visual Arts Studio at UC San Diego. I then went on to complete my MFA at UC Irvine, emphasizing in sculpture and video practices. Eventually, I made my way to Los Angeles, where I’ve been laying down roots for the past 6 years. I’m definitely a Southern California kid through and through.

When I’m not holed up in the studio, you’ll find me teaching Sculpture and 3-D Design to college students. I'm also a member of an artist crit group and collective called The Cold Read. We're all about fostering care and support through written exchanges, sharing resources, and organizing exhibitions based on creative prompts. I'm a strong advocate for integrating art into my everyday life. For me, this means not only creating art but also building a sense of community, serving as an inspiration to the next generation of artists, and continually honing my own craft. This journey has been incredibly rewarding.

What kind of work are you currently making?

While I work across a variety of mediums, my practice is rooted in sculpture and drawing. In my work, you’ll often find visually abstract forms that incorporate recognizable elements such as hands, bottles, necklace chains, and stickers. These elements are interwoven and embedded into the vibrant surfaces of my sculptures and are visually echoed in my drawings.

Right now, I'm juggling two different projects because each of them calls for a different approach. The first series revolves around a deeply personal experience involving my father. Back in 2005, he had a near-death encounter that resulted in short-term memory loss and dementia. I've found that having him recite his account of his near-death experience has had a calming effect on him when his world feels chaotic. It helps him try to recall memories and reconnect spiritually. This project means a lot to me, especially as my father grows older. I feel an immediacy to archive and spend time with his personal story because this project is emotionally intense and personal.

I've also been working on another series to maintain a sense of balance. I've affectionately nicknamed the other series 'Magic Shoes.' This series draws inspiration from a tragic historical event in 1500s France known as The Dancing Plague. More than several hundred people lost their lives due to a collective hysteria that drove them to dance tirelessly to the point of exhaustion. This was likely due to political and environmental stressors present during this time. 'Magic Shoes' finds resonance and parallels with The Dancing Plague and draws from intimate dance gatherings that sprung up in response to the tumultuous year 2020, marked by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. These gatherings served as a source of solace, offering a physical release from the heightened stress and uncertainty that gripped America during a time of personal and political upheaval.

Managing these two series keeps me happily engaged and occupied in the studio.

What is a day like in the studio for you?

So my studio sometimes entails my apartment if I’m in a research phase - this means reading, sketching, or doing interviews. When I’m in a process where I need to physically make objects, I head to my studio in Downtown LA, which was built in the 1920s. The building has a manually operated elevator, which adds to its charm. If I, for some reason, happen to miss the operator’s shift, which usually is a Sunday problem, I have to walk 9 flights up the stairs to my creative haven. Once I’m in, I usually plan to hunker down for the next 5-7 hrs. I start off by recalibrating from the day or just the LA commute, which involves a short 20-minute meditation. This helps me refocus my goals for making in the studio.

I work in a variety of materials and mediums. I usually find myself alternating between 4 processes: drawing, painting a sculpture, creating a structure for a sculpture, and setting up a resin mold or pour. Since I have a day job, I have to be strategic with my schedule to make the most of my studio time. I happen to share my studio space with 3 amazing artists- Amy MacKay, Molly Haynes, and Annie Irwin. Sometimes my studio day becomes a studio hang out - I try to always factor that into my work week.

Although I’m pretty organized, I also like to leave room for social surprises - I think it keeps things healthy.

What are you looking at right now and/or reading?

I’m guilty of reading a few books at the same time. It’s a problem. Right now, I've got a few on my plate. I'm diving into "The Dancing Plague" by John Waller and "Contact" by Carl Sagan, both of which are integral to my research for my artistic projects. On top of that, I'm revisiting "An Archive of Feelings" by Ann Cvetkovich, which is serving as valuable research material for shaping my class curriculum.

Where can we find more of your work? (ex. website/insta/gallery/upcoming shows)

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