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Member Spotlight l Maru Garcia

Monday, May 15, 2023 7:58 AM | Anonymous


May 5,2023

This week we recognize  Maru Garcia  Maru Garcia, and her laboratory and fieldwork practice exploring organic matter.

Ground Dwellers, 2015 (above) is a group of bio-art in Petri dishes that incorporates a collection of microorganisms present in the soil where corn is cultivated. Corn is Mexico’s staple and single, most important nutrition source. The conservation of these micro-ecosystems assures future corn production, innovation in fertilizer creation and biological pest control. The collection of species was obtained by the researchers at CNRG (National Center of Genetic Resources). This is a government institution that is committed to obtaining, characterizing and preserving species important for Mexico’s biodiversity.”

click images for more info

Vivarium, 2018 (above) is a performance piece that “studies the interactions within an ecosystem, from the movement of matter and energy to the community created by the living and nonliving organisms. This network of interactions is captured in the macroscopic and microscopic level over time, as an attempt to scale what it means to be part of a larger ecosystem: the Earth. For Vivarium I, the artist shared a marine ecosystem in the coasts of California in a space of 6 hours, engaging with the environment and living organisms that surrounded her.”

Playground, 2019 (above) “is a multimedia installation that looks in a critical point of view the situation of South East Los Angeles, where massive contamination of lead occurred due to irresponsible practices of a car battery recycling facility. Being lead a dangerous substance, particularly affecting the cognitive development of children, Playground offers the viewer the possibility to play with the soil in a protected environment. The playful interactivity of the piece is captured by a live projection, confronting the experience with the reality of people affected by this problem.”

Speaking on the lead contamination in South East LA, Garcia created Vacuoles: Bioremediating Cultures, 2019 (above) an installation of 29 ceramic pieces that contained lead contaminated soil from south east LA. “This project resulted from research into an environmental and social crisis specific to South East LA, where thousands of families face severe lead contamination in land affected by a company recycling car batteries. As part of the research, soil samples were collected and encapsulated in oval shape ceramic pieces. This artwork responded to some plants’ bioremediating action in their vacuoles, where they absorb the lead and encapsulate it in these cellular organelles. The work is presented as an interactive installation, and the “vacuoles” represent the 29 most contaminated parks, schools, or childcare centers in South East LA. The viewers can walk around these vacuoles and think about themselves as “bioremediating organisms.” Their image is projected on the wall as they move around the space, resembling a Petri dish or a microscopic view. This is an invitation to exercise our possibility to act as remediators instead of exploiters.”

Garcia's most recent and ongoing project is titled Prospering Backyards (below). It “is a project that uses the power of art, science, and community to address the severe case of lead contamination in the soil caused by Exide Technologies in areas of East Los Angeles, Boyle Heights, Vernon, Commerce, Maywood, Huntington Park, and Bell. This is a collaborative scientific research between community scientists from the affected community, artists, activists, and scientists, to develop an alternative method for reducing lead exposure in contaminated backyards while considering the health of the soil and the environment.”

Maru Garcia            combines laboratory and fieldwork tools from her background in plant chemistry and the pharmaceutical industry. Her use of media includes research, installations, performance, sculpture, and video, usually with the presence of organic matter to help understand the biological processes occurring in complex systems. She has participated in conferences, solo and group exhibitions in North America, Europe, and Asia. Garcia was an artist in residence in the National Center of Genetic Resources in Mexico and has received awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts ‘Anonymous Was a Woman Environmental Art Grant’, the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) Environmental Justice Grant, the California Arts Council, Los Angeles Sustainability Collaborative, Clifton Webb Scholarship for the Arts, and Fundación Jumex. She collaborated with the Art-Sci Center and Counterforce Lab at UCLA and was a 2020- 2021 Sci-Art Ambassador for Supercollider. Garcia worked at the Getty Research Institute in the 2019-2020 Scholar program titled “Art and Ecology” and was a 2021-2022 artist in residence at 18th Street Arts Center. Currently, she's a Getty Foundation grant recipient for the exhibition “Sink: places we call home” with Self Help Graphics & Art, to be presented in the Pacific Standard Time Art x Science x LA in 2024. She is an Associate Research Scientist in Mineral Sciences at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and founder of Biomedia Studio and Prospering Backyards. Garcia holds an MFA in Design & Media Arts from UCLA as well as an MS in Biotechnology and a BS in Chemistry both from Tecnológico de Monterrey, México. www.marugarciastudio.com

Featured Images (top to bottom): ©Maru Garcia, Ground dwellers series 2015, images primarily shot in Mexico, photographer Tania Lara; Vivarium performance video  2018, California; Playground, 2019; Membrane tensions 2021, scoby and bacteria in glass container, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery; Prospering backgrounds ongoing, taking place in Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles, South East LA; Portrait of the artist.

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