Karla Diaz is a writer, teacher, and multidisciplinary artist who engages in painting, installation, video, and performance. Using narrative to question identity, institutional power, and explore memory, her socially engaged practice generates exciting collaborations and provokes important dialogue among diverse communities. Notably, she is the co- founder of the socially engaged collective and community artist space Slanguage. Critical discourse is central to her practice as she explores social, subcultural, and marginalized stories.
In her introspection, splashes of color became figures and objects that transformed into scenes of domesticity and city life drawn from her upbringing in Mexico and Los Angeles. Personal memories, folklore, familiar iconography of her Mexican heritage, and American pop culture are intertwined in surreal compositions that consider family, loss, and the complexities of the Latinx experience in the United States. As Diaz expresses, “these works reveal meaning in relation to others, to experience, to memory, to story, to dreams and dreamers, to imagination and to the larger context of home.”
Karla Diaz was born in Los Angeles, CA. She received an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 2003 and a BA from California State University Los Angeles in 1999. Her works have been exhibited nationally and internationally at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, LAXART, Hollywood, CA; Pitzer College, Claremont, CA; California State University Los Angeles, CA; San Jose Museum of Art, CA; Institute for Contemporary Art, Boston, MA; Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL; Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, MI; the Serpentine Gallery, London, U.K.; and Museo Case de Cervantes, Madrid, Spain. Her work is in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA, and Inhotim Museum, Brumadinho, Brazil.
She has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards from Art Matters, New York, NY; Tiffany Foundation, New York, NY; City of Los Angeles, CA; Riverside Art Museum, CA; and CalArts, Los Angeles, CA. Karla Diaz lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles is very pleased to invite you to an artist talk with June Edmonds, Carla Jay Harris, and Karla Diaz in conjunction with the artists' current solo exhibitions. The talk will be held on Saturday, October 23rd, from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm, followed by a Q&A. This is an in-person event. Seating is limited and reservations are required.
For many, Lucha Libre represents something more personal and intimate. Karla Diaz’s “Las Dos Luchas/The Double Fight” (2022), from a series of new watercolors created for the exhibition, features scenes from the artist’s life punctuated with scenes from lucha. Made after she underwent brain surgery, these paintings illustrate the Diaz’s healing journey as she began to recover her memories.
November in Los Angeles brings us shows that highlight art’s role as both a reflection of everyday life and a force to help change our reality. An exhibition at Angels Gate Cultural Center showcases the multifaceted programs of the community-based Slanguage Studio. Shows at the Vincent Price Art Museum and Skirball Cultural Center highlight the potential of art to memorialize and record our histories.
Founded 20 years ago by Mario Ybarra Jr. and Karla Diaz, Slanguage Studio opened its doors to the community of Wilmington as an artist-run space. Slanguage has since expanded its creative teachings, aspirations, and community engagement globally to creatives, innovators, and teachers of all backgrounds. We Run Things, Things Don’t Run We is an homage and oeuvre of many generations that have contributed to the history, community-centric values, conscious intent/ content and intergenerational, alternative learning space of Slanguage Studio.
Occupying the opposite pole of painting are the socially engaged works of Karla Diaz at the Los Angeles gallery Luis De Jesus (Booth 5.03). Diaz’s deep, color-saturated canvases tell personal stories of migration from Mexico to the United States, as well as preserve folklore from her heritage.
A man dressed in brown stands before a row of trees, the color of his garments and the sturdiness of his posture evoking the solidity of the forest behind him. To his left, a fire eater spits flames into a tangerine sky. If this all sounds like a dream, well, it is. “El ´Árbol y el Tragafuegos” — “The Tree and the Fire Eater,” in English — was painted by Los Angeles artist Karla Diaz and it emerges from her dreams and her memories. The tree-man? That’s her, as a figure she once embodied in a dream. The fire eater was inspired by “Dragón,” a man — and actual fire eater — she knew from her family’s native village in the Mexican state of Colima. His real name was José and he hoped to one day become a truck driver.
It was in an unlikely place to contemplate art where Karla Diaz, co-founder of Wilmington-based art collective Slanguage, began to formulate the idea behind the current exhibit at Cal State Long Beach’s University Art Museum. At the law offices where some of the museum’s collection hangs—including several second wave abstract expressionist pieces—Diaz noticed how some employees’ desk decorations matched the colors of the paintings and how even their clothes complemented the works.
Karla Diaz and her partner, Mario Ybarra Jr., believe community involvement is crucial to art. That’s easy to see in the couple’s current exhibition at Cal State Long Beach’s University Art Museum, which makes viewers part of the conversation right from the title: Call and Response, When We Say…You Say. Diaz and Ybarra are co-founders of the Wilmington-based art collective, Slanguage. This exhibit, which opened Jan. 28, connects pop culture and high art to highlight the conversations that occur between art pieces, artists, and patrons.
Tamales fashioned from crushed Doritos. Grilled cheese sandwiches turned golden brown with a hot clothing iron. Brownies formed from crushed cookies, candy bars and hot coffee. Samples of these dishes were handed out to a dinnertime crowd gathered at the Sister Hearts Thrift Store on West Judge Perez Drive in Arabi on Monday (May 22), during the "Prison Gourmet: New Orleans Cook-Off." A group of women, all formerly incarcerated, re-created the dishes they had made in their prison dormitories, using whatever tools they had and food purchased from the commissary or stolen from the prison kitchen. The evening was co-sponsored by Los Angeles artist Karla Diaz and Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane University, which is planning a major exhibition in spring 2018, focusing on Louisiana's high incarceration rate.
In a city known for its vibrant food culture, some New Orleans' culinary traditions receive scant attention. That includes the enterprising recipes developed and shared by prison inmates.The Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane University, in partnership with Los Angeles artist Karla Diaz, wants to bring attention to dishes created by formerly incarcerated women in the upcoming workshop "Prison Gourmet: New Orleans Cook-Off" at Sister Hearts Thrift Store in Arabi.
Karla Diaz is not a chef, but she's gained a dedicated following for the food she makes. A performance artist in Los Angeles, Diaz has spent the past six years demonstrating how to cook dishes like tamales made out of of Cheetos, soup from Corn Nuts and pork rinds, and orange chicken made with instant ramen and strawberry jelly. She doesn't use a stove, a blender, or conventional utensils—just tools that can be built out of trash bags and toilet paper, and ingredients she would find if she were incarcerated. She calls it "prison gourmet."
Karla Diaz is an activist, artist, writer and one of the founders of the artist group Slanguage Studio. A couple of years ago, she got interested in the prison food system in California and in particular in the prisoners’ ingenious strategies to overcome the culinary flaws of the CDCR cafeterias. It turns out that prisoners create their own recipes using the limited list of ingredients they can buy either from the jail commissary or the vending machines. The men also design kitchen tools using whatever is available to them and make some unconventional mixtures of ingredients to create their own unique flavours.
“Possible Worlds,” a new installation of objects from the collection at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, adheres to a now familiar format, blurring the line between curating and art making. Artists Mario Ybarra Jr. and Karla Diaz (of the artists’ collaborative Slanguage) created the installation as part of a residency at Watts House Project, an artist-driven urban revitalization initiative near Simon Rodia’s iconic Watts Towers. A more complicated back story is hard to imagine, and the danger of course, is that the show relies too heavily on a context well outside the museum walls. However, it ends up being less about Watts or community art than a reflection on how they might influence the museum.
South Bay style was on display last night when Wilmington's own media and arts collective, Slanguage, took curatorial control of MOCA's Thursday night Engagement Party series with its Psychicinema Multiplex. Founded in 2002 by Karla Diaz and Mario Ybarra Jr., and based in the harbor area of L.A. specifically to cultivate relationships between diverse audiences there, Slanguage has unleashed its experimental, street art approach on venues like the Tate Modern Museum and Serpentine Gallery in London, to LACMA, to Boston public schools — and now MOCA, where Slanguage's visual assault included screenings and projections throughout the courtyard and galleries, with psychic dancers, DJs, palm readers and a prom-style portrait studio with Wilmington's hellish refineries as the backdrop.