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This is a color photograph of a sculptural work by Maru Garcia. The work is a circular glass vase half filled with living culture. The neck of the vase is covered with a tan cloth. The vase is placed on a pedestal that has a dimly lit top surface.

Maru Garcia
March 4 — April 22, 2021

membrane tensions installation view, 2021. image courtesy of the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery. photo: Jeff McLane.

The City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) and the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (LAMAG) presented a series of four solo exhibitions featuring newly commissioned work by Los Angeles artists Panteha Abareshi, Alexandre Dorriz, Tristan Espinoza, and Maru Garcia. These series of exhibitions reimagined the role of the gallery experience for our current times by presenting research-based artists outside of the white box.


Maru Garcia’s exhibition featured a multifaceted time-based installation commissioned especially for the LAMAG. Her installation, membrane tensions, was made up of three in-gallery components: an active laboratory of live cultures (yeast and bacteria) to harvest cellulose for the other two components; an intervention light into of gallery’s windows with the cellulose; and an installation of suspended sculptural forms also made from cellulose. The site-specific installation was monitored, documented, and presented through online
streaming from LAMAG’s website.


membrane tensions evoked the beginnings of the primordial soup of life and the early build blocks of when lifeforms first emerged. Essential to this was the biological delineation between internal and external. Garcia’s use of cellulose created from microbial symbiotic relationships was a metaphorical “membrane” that explored these ideas of relationships, interconnectivity, exchange and collaboration. Through these porous boundaries on a biological, artistic, and sociopolitical level, the artist invited viewers to consider how we can reimagine future relationships and collaborations by examining basic building blocks of primordial relationships.
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  • Maru Garcia, "membrane tensions" installation detail, 2021. image courtesy of the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery. photo: Jeff McLane.

Maru Garcia [b. Puebla, Mexico (she/her)] has participated in conferences, solo and group exhibitions in North America, Europe, and Asia. She was an artist in residence in the National Center of Genetic Resources in Mexico. She received awards from Los Angeles Sustainability Collaborative, Clifton Webb Scholarship for the Arts, and Fundación Jumex. She is based in LA and holds an MFA in Design & Media Arts from the University of California, Los Angeles, and an M.S. in Biotechnology and B.S. in Chemistry from Tecnologico de Monterrey, Mexico.