Gala Porras-Kim Pepper Lecture

Murray Pepper and Vicki Reynolds Pepper Distinguished Visiting Artist & Scholar Lecture Gala Porras-Kim: The Weight of a Patina of Time

Tuesday, December 5, 2023, 4:15 p.m.
Benson Auditorium

Gala Porras-Kim, 615 offerings for the rain at the Peabody Museum, 2021, color pencil and Flashe on paper, 72 x 72 in (183 x 183 cm). Courtesy of the artist and Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles, Mexico City. Copyright: Gala Porras-Kim; Photo by Paul Salveson

In her lecture, titled The Weight of a Patina of Time, Gala Porras-Kim will present her ongoing research on archaeological objects, institutional histories, museum ethics, and collecting practices. Porras-Kim’s research-based practice explores the relationships between objects and artifacts and the institutions that care for, collect and display them.

The 2023 Pepper Lecture with Gala Porras-Kim is jointly presented by Pitzer College Art Galleries and the Munroe Center for Social Inquiry (MCSI) and is the culminating lecture of the Fall 2023 MCSI Lecture Series: Apologies, Reparations, and Restitution.

Gala Porras-Kim

Gala Porras-Kim’s work often takes the form of meticulous drawings of ancient objects in various states of disrepair, relocated from the site of excavation to museum exhibition halls and storage facilities. Her exhibition at Pitzer College Art Galleries will focus on an evolving body of work based on artifacts extracted from Chichén Itzá, an important archeological site of the Classic and Post-classic Maya in the Mexican state of Yucatán. 

Since the twentieth century, archeologists have removed, often by dubious means, thousands of objects from this site, objects which have then found their way into museum collections across the world. The series of works by Porras-Kim featured in this exhibition references the work of antiquarian Edward Herbert Thompson, who extracted objects from the “Sacred Cenote” at Chichén in the first decade of the twentieth century using a dredge and divers. Site of ritual offerings, the well contained many ceremonial objects sent there as tribute to the Rain God. Many of the objects represented in her drawings were recovered through techniques that irreparably damaged the artifacts and obliterated contextual information. While Porras-Kim’s work exposes this complicated history, her primary focus is on the relationships between objects and artifacts and the institutions that care for, collect, and display them. 

About the artist:

Gala Porras-Kim (b. 1984, Bogotá; lives and works in Los Angeles) received an MA in Latin American Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles (2012), an MFA from California Institute of the Arts (2009), and BA from University of California, Los Angeles (2007). Solo exhibitions have been held at Leeum Museum of Art, Seoul (forthcoming); REDCAT, Los Angeles (2023); Fowler Museum, Los Angeles (2023); Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Sevilla (2023); Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City (2023); Gasworks, London (2022); Amant, Brooklyn (2022); and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2019). Selected group exhibitions have been held at National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul (2023); Liverpool Biennial (2023); 34th Bienal de São Paulo (2021); 13th Gwangju Biennale (2021); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2021, 2017); Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2021, 2019); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2019, 2016); PinchukArtCentre, Kiev (2019); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2019, 2017); Para Site, Hong Kong (2019); and Seoul Museum of Art (2017). Porras-Kim is a recipient of an Art Matters Foundation Grant (2019), Artadia Los Angeles Award (2017), Joan Mitchell Foundation Emerging Artist Grant (2016), Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (2015), Creative Capital Grant for Visual Artists (2015), and California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Artists (2013). She has participated in residencies at Getty Research Institute (2021-22); Delfina Foundation, London (2021); Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, Cambridge (2020); La Tallera, Proyecto Siqueiros, Cuernavaca (2019); Fundación Casa Wabi, Oaxaca (2016); Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2013).


Gala Porras-Kim is organized by Professor of Media Studies Jesse Lerner and Ciara Ennis, Director of the de Saisset Museum, Santa Clara University. Jesse Lerner is a documentary film and video maker. His short films and documentaries have won prizes at film festivals in the United States, Latin America and Japan, and have shown at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the Sydney Biennale and the Sundance Film Festival. Formerly Director and Curator of Pitzer College Art Galleries, Ciara Ennis received a PhD in Cultural Studies and Museum Studies from Claremont Graduate University and an MA in Visual Arts Administration, Curating, and Commissioning Contemporary Art from the Royal College of Art, London.

Sat., Jan. 27, 2024
2:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Jan. 27 – Mar. 22, 2024


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