Lexa Walsh is an artist and cultural worker based Oakland, CA
She is a graduate of Portland State University’s Art & Social Practice MFA program and was Social Practice Artist in Residence in Portland Art Museum’s Education department. She was a recipient of Southern Exposure’s Alternative Exposure Award, the CEC Artslink Award, the Gunk Grant and was a de Young Artist Fellow. Walsh has participated in projects, exhibitions and performances locally and nationally at Apexart, Oakland Museum of California, Portland Art Museum, SFMOMA, Smack Mellon, Walker Art Center, Williams College Museum of Art, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and has done several international artist residencies, tours and projects in Europe and Asia.
Her upbringing as the youngest child of fifteen informs her work, as does coming of age in the Bay Area post punk cultural scene of the 1990’s and practicing collectivity. She founded the experimental music and performance venue the Heinz Afterworld Lounge, worked for many years as a curator and administrator at CESTA, an international art center in Czech republic, whose team created radical curatorial projects to foster cross-cultural understanding. Walsh co-founded and conceived of the all women, all toy instrument ensemble Toychestra. She founded and organizes Oakland Stock, the Oakland branch of the Sunday Soup network micro-granting dinner series that supports artists’ projects.
She is currently working on curatorial projects at di Rosa in Napa and NIAD in Richmond, CA, and is a 2018-19 Kala Print Public Awardee.
In my art practice, I work as anthropologist, archivist, curator, experience-maker and facilitator. I examine and create social ties in order to craft Hospitable Democracies within cultural institutions both real and imagined. Hospitable Democracy is a platform for interaction and conversation across hierarchies, representing multiple voices.
Meals, tours, songs, and play become experiential artworks in themselves in these spaces for conversation, storytelling, gathering and collecting. These may, too, prompt text and installation based works, addressing subjects such as radical hospitality, ritual and inclusion, labor, power and identity.
Hospitable Democracy applies to my socially engaged projects, like hosting a recipe exchange among conflicting populations, or inviting amateurs and professionals to write their town’s theme song. It also relates to my curatorial practice, as I merge valuable artworks with ephemera and fakes, or assemble community-sourced archives. Even the objects I make employ these strategies. I juxtapose high and low-end materials together, balancing the profound and the quotidian, always questioning concepts of value. I embrace the space between unrest and a warm hug.