Gala Porras-Kim was born in Bogota, Colombia and received an M.F.A. from California Institute of the Arts. She is interested in how cultural objects acquire meaning and value and how they function across history.
For a show at L.A.’s Hammer Museum, Porras-Kim took obscure ethnographic objects from U.C L.A.’s Fowler Museum, all of which had been categorized as ‘unidentified’, and placed these fragments on display in a contemporary art show. Her focus examines how context changes an object’s meaning as these seemingly valueless objects, divorced from their history and their owners, can help a viewer to remember those who had made them.
For an exhibit at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, she indexed Western Mexican ceramics from LACMA’s own collection and considered their possible functions through sculpture, creating new objects that may themselves become artifacts in the future.
Porras-Kim worked on a project where tones alone could be used to communicate language. Her 2012 work “For Learning Zapotec Verbs” is made from wood, paper, graphite, and wire, as she brings the worlds of ethnography, linguistics, and colonial politics into this art piece.
Porras-Kim has had solo shows in Los Angeles and Mexico City and has exhibited in France, Colombia, Mexico City, Los Angeles, and New York’s Whitney Museum. Her work is currently on view at the Whitney Biennial. In October of this year, she will have a show at Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art.