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Smoking in the Garden 2023

Smoking in the Garden at Phase Gallery, Los Angeles 

Smoking in the Garden explores folklore from stories passed down through Kim’s mother, investigating how an oral narrative can transform trauma into power. These works express how her body and lived experiences digest intimacy while employing memory, in all of its slipperiness, to explore interpersonal power dynamics. Using the trace of history as a key element in her work, Kim's material practice combines sculpture, drawing, and painting to investigate residual tensions built up to the present. This latest body of work is a form of sincere and sentimental inscription, describing the love entwined in a mother-daughter relationship and the postcolonial identity in all its cryptic layers.

Love is traditionally something that must be upkept, where stains can both hide and reveal what is lacking in a relationship. From the repeated performance of this oral history, meaning is brought forth from the realm of the imaginary through material play. Kim herself acknowledges that each story is interlaced with familial and colonial trauma - an inheritance she is conscious of as the daughter of immigrants. Walking through those shadows as an act of care and remembrance, Kim uses her material process to ritualize these narrative moments into a healing practice. To stand with her shadow self and the shadows that have come before her time, Kim gives power to the absent: what isn't visible, what may be powerless, and what cannot be easily defined.

Simulating the oral narrative recited by her mother, Kim uses repeated visuals that shift in scale and move through the planes of a surface. Forms from this series collapse in certain areas and expand in others, functioning both as supporting tissues and objects that dominate space. Punctures on surfaces disintegrate the visible membrane between here and there. Much like recalling the past, the textures of the surface are gooey, thick, layered, slimy, and agitated. The work contends with history outside the conventions of a linear timeline. Color becomes a connotative device to evoke complicated moments in a relationship, like the operation of warmth and intensity on one side and rejection or harm on the other.

The show takes its title from Kim's middle name Fumar, inherited from her mother, which translates from Spanish to English to smoke. Its amorphous state of being is the product of some material cannibalization into a gas – in most cultures, it can purify or contaminate bodies. It is a verb with affect, agency, and change, all inherent in its meaning. In Smoking in the Garden, Kim presents a world arrested between fiction and history, here and there, self and other.

Written by Liz Stringer is an artist and writer living in Los Angeles

Additional accompanying Texts: Reflections on the Ashtray by Lawrence Chit and Letter to Kim Garcia from Liz Stringer

solo exhibition | photo documentation by Yubo Dong ofstudio photography

she has her mother’s eyes  2019-2022

she has her mother’s eyes 

In 2019, I began a series exploring folklore passed down by my mother, delving into its significance as a fantastical origin tale of her family history. This creative endeavor also served as a cathartic process, addressing trauma spanning our mother-daughter bond, familial ties, and the history of the Philippines.

Spain's publication of the "Catálogo alfabético de apellidos" in 1849 established a system for selecting last names. Indigenous Filipinos chose surnames alphabetically, yet I discovered no mention of Fumar, my mother's maiden name, within the document. Although it likely deviated slightly, it intrigued me due to its translation as "to smoke.”

The interplay between smoke and the surname mirrors my mother's ever-evolving narrative. The name itself encompasses the entire story, reflecting its transformations, adaptations, and reconstructions to convey strength while still bearing the imprints of trauma. This ongoing series explores intergenerational trauma and the complex dynamics of power and wounds.

This series lead up to a final solo exhibition at Phase Gallery Los Angeles on May 13, 2023.

The HIDEBEHIND  2020 - ongoing 


THE HIDEBEHIND is an ongoing collaborative dialogue by myself and Amy MacKay. The project draws inspiration from the American myth of the Hidebehind, a forest-dwelling monster known for its ability to conceal itself. With a history of sharing a studio space for over 8 years and collaborating on various works and community projects, the series investigates the dynamics of coexistence and our responses to encountering difference. Through the fusion of painting and sculpture, The Hidebehind explores our intimate relationship and the interplay between these art forms.

Amy MacKay is a painter based in Los Angeles, CA.

photo documentation by Yubo Dong ofstudio photography

i leave this standing stone to be a sign 2019 

i leave this standing stone to be a sign at Best Practice, San Diego  

i leave this standing stone to be a sign is an exhibition that skillfully weaves together materials and processes, creating forms both familiar and foreign. Through the lens of fiction, the work explores the intricate interplay among collaboration, interpersonal relationships, and community, immersing viewers in an engaging experience.

Low sculptures act as pedestals for smaller works, with vibrant red drawings mounted higher than the standard viewing experience. Visitors choose to crouch for intimate sculpture examination or lift their gaze to view the elevated drawings. Employing a layered approach to objects and imagery, the audience is invited to delve into the work's past and contemplate the lingering myths that remain. Fiction merges with reality, prompting a reconsideration of human connection and the power of shared and changing narratives.

‘standing stones’ were small scupltures that were comprised of a mixture of found objects, encapsulated objects, unfired clay, paraffin wax, watercolor, resin, powder pigment, oil pastel, and polyurethane foam.

solo exhibition