The Skirball has commissioned Los Angeles–based artist Ken Gonzales-Day to create a new body of photographic work examining the mural landscape of LA—from East LA to Venice Beach, from Pacoima to South LA. Featuring over 100 photographs, Surface Tension by Ken Gonzales-Day: Murals, Signs, and Mark‐Making in LA considers what the city’s walls reveal about the many different communities that live here.
The exhibition demonstrates how Los Angeles understands its history and its values through the murals that decorate the city. Local communities honor their heritage by telling their own stories with their own voices. Residents pay homage to their idols and heroes. Graffiti writers declare their presence. Activists decry injustice and envision better worlds. Shopkeepers lure customers with hand-painted advertisements of their wares. Artists from around the globe make their mark on a rapidly changing urbanscape.
Recording Los Angeles’s unique visual identity and the diversity of its population and artistic production in the present moment, Surface Tension by Ken Gonzales-Day asks: What is a mural? Who speaks, and who decides what counts as art?