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, the de Young Artist Fellowship, and Kala’s Print Public Residency Award. Walsh has participated in projects, exhibitions and performances at locally at the de Young, di Rosa, Exploratorium, Kala, Oakland Museum of California, NIAD, SFMOMA, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. She has shown nationally at Apexart, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Portland Art Museum, Smack Mellon, Walker Art Center, Williams College Museum of Art, and has done several international artist residencies, tours and projects in Europe and Taiwan.
Her upbringing as the youngest child of fifteen informs her work, as does practicing collectivity while coming of age in the Bay Area post punk cultural scene of the 1990’s. 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 an Artist in Residence at Grand Central Arts in Santa Ana, CA, and is working on projects at Pro Arts & Commons and Free Oakland Up in Oakland.
I work as anthropologist, archivist, curator, facilitator and experience-maker. 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 within these spaces for conversation, storytelling, gathering and collecting. These may prompt text, installation and curatorial based works, addressing subjects such as radical hospitality, ritual and inclusion, labor, power, identity and institutional critique.
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 integrate these strategies, using high and low materials and techniques, balancing the profound and the quotidian, always questioning concepts of value.
I embrace the space between unrest and a warm hug.