By Anika Giron, VPAM Student Tutor

    Gabriela Ruiz, Digital Self-Portrait, 2019, 3-D rendering, courtesy of the artist.
72448667_2557539160992654_2392795408100229120_o (1)
Gabriela Ruiz at the opening reception of her exhibition, Gabriela Ruiz: Full of Tears, at the Vincent Price Art Museum on September 21, 2019.  Photo by Monica Orozco

In her first solo museum exhibition, Gabriela Ruiz: Full of Tears, the artist brings to light the importance of existence, whether that’s in the digital world or in person. By taking a look at how Ruiz brings her own thoughts and memories to life, this exhibition invites guests to ponder what lies in their own subconscious, and what that would translate to if it were to also take up physical space. I reached out to the artist to peek further into her mind. Ruiz’s thoughts on technology today also inspired me to write a personal reflection on the impact it can cause on an individual’s life. Being able to work with her and find similarities in our stories truly opened my eyes to how valuable our memories are and how they could be taken away so quickly. 

Giron: What was your favorite piece from Full of Tears?

Ruiz: My favorite piece has to be the door sculpture. It was really fun coming up with the design and watching it come to life. 

When making a piece, do you ever give it a break to come up with new ideas?     

Depending on whether I had a previous idea. If I’m working on a piece on a whim, then, yes, I let the section build itself during the time being.

What has been your favorite project & why?

One of my favorite projects I had the honor of being in was LA Fonts, a backyard show curated by Alfonso Gonzalez and Rafa Esparza.

What’s a hobby you do for fun?

I love to cook. I hope to one day own a restaurant.

Have you ever changed your genre of art?

I like exploring different mediums; I enjoy being able to learn a new craft. 

How do you come up with ideas for curating a show?

I work with the concept I’m trying to convey or depending on if I have a color, I want to attach to that space; it usually starts that way.

Who would you want to collaborate with next? 

I hope I’m able to collaborate with more friends, It’s always inspirational working with friends from all backgrounds.

What got you into DIY?

I was inspired by DIY because my father would take me to flea markets and that’s where I found pieces to begin my projects.

Where would you want to show your work outside of the U.S.?

In the future, I’d love to show work in Japan.

Where does your inspiration come from?

Most of my inspiration comes from color, my mood towards color, and what I’m usually dealing with in my life at the moment.

GABRIELA RUIZ FULL OF TEARS Art Installation shot by Monica Oroz
Exhibition view of Gabriela Ruiz: Full of Tears, 2019, door installation with mirrors, flowers, gold necklaces, chains, temporary tattoos, bird spikes, plaster cloth hand cast, and video mapping. Photo by Monica Orozco.
GABRIELA RUIZ FULL OF TEARS Art Installation shot by Monica Oroz
Exhibition view of Gabriela Ruiz: Full of Tears, 2019, window installation with curtains, flowers, doilies, gold necklaces, and video mapping Photo by Monica Orozco.

Although Ruiz’s favorite work in the exhibition is the door piece, I was most drawn to the artist’s window installation. This installation focuses on precisely moments captured on her phone that include photos and videos that she’s collected for the past four years. It tells a story of her thoughts, memories, emotions, and experiences. This part of the installation stood out to me and opened my eyes to how technology can take hold of the majority of our lives. During our staff walkthrough of the exhibition, Ruiz mentioned her close friend Ignacio “Nacho” Nava Jr., to whom she dedicates the exhibition, and how she was unable to find the password to his phone when he was on his deathbed. That took me back to when my father passed away and I didn’t have his passwords to access his personal devices and social media accounts. I realized how much I relied on his Facebook profile, it being the only social media platform he used, and to which he uploaded videos and photos of our family. The day his profile was deactivated, I felt like a piece of me died. I thought of this as Ruiz recounted that Apple couldn’t even release Nacho’s information because it wasn’t him that was calling to reset his password. In this way, Ruiz and I connected, as Facebook could not help me retrieve sentimental posts that my father had shared with our family. Something so little such as a social media account or smartphone becomes a piece of someone’s life that reverberates even after they have passed away. 

I also found Ruiz’s window installation unique because it’s a portal into her memories. The first time I viewed this exhibition, I was at a loss for words because I felt it resonated with my own memories, thoughts, and emotions. Unfortunately, memories can come and go just like dreams; we may remember one second, and in the next, they disappear forever. In the end, it comes as no surprise how we have come to rely so heavily on technology to record these memories and keep tabs on our experiences. 

Learn more about Gabriela Ruiz: Full of Tears here.