Gabriela Ruiz is a self-taught, multimedia artist whose practice is centered around issues of identity and the body. She uses found objects and everyday materials in sculpture, painting, design, performance art, and video art. Her work grips you with texture, color, and sound as it creates an environment for viewers to be immersed in.
Ruiz grew up in Los Angeles to immigrant parents from Mexico, and her work embraces a strong work ethic which expresses the vibrancy of Mexican culture and artistic traditions. Her earliest inspirations were music videos, and she wanted to be a fashion designer. She was creating pieces under the name Leather Papi. She designed for different body types, queer artists, and artists of color. Her colorful fashion shots became a precursor for her installation art.
With her friend Ignacio “Nacho” Nava Jr. she began staging performances in downtown Los Angeles. Through him she met artist Rafa Esparza with whom she collaborated on a performance piece at L.A.’s Institute of Contemporary Art in 2018. Nao Bustamante, Vice Dean of the art school at USC, invited her to create a work for a performance festival in L.A. This event gave her credibility as an artist.
Ruiz’s first solo museum exhibition, “Gabriela Ruiz: Full of Tears,” was held at the Vincent Price Art Museum in 2020. She transformed a gallery space into an immersive chamber of dreams, using 3-D rendering, video mapping, and installation to investigate questions of the self. She created a digital self-portrait incorporating sound and color.
Ruiz’s recent gallery exhibition, “Futurition,“ was “an invitation for viewers to look inside the artist’s self-described chaotic thought process.” Ruiz is uncertain of the assurance of the future and views humans as precarious and fragile. That is why there were fragmented images of her own body in multi-channel video installations. The montage of her body parts showed her feelings of disconnection from the physical form.
Two sculptural paintings in “Futurition” used plastic molds of her face, masses of insulation foam, and textural designs made with a three-dimensional pen. One of the paintings was on a wood panel; the other painting had an amorphous form. The centerpiece was a sculpture that served as an incubator while disparate sounds in the gallery provided a soundtrack.
Ruiz has had solo exhibitions in Los Angeles and has participated in group exhibitions in Los Angeles, Guadalajara, Antwerp, the Museo de Arte in Mexico City, among others. There is currently an exhibition of her work at the Palm Springs Art Museum through January, 2023.