Karla Diaz Celebrates Mexican American Identity in New Solo Show

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18th Street Arts Center (18SAC) in Santa Monica, California, presents Wait ’til Your Mother Gets Home, the first solo show in the Los Angeles area by artist Karla Diaz (Art MFA 03), running through June 22 at the Propeller Gallery on 18SAC’s Airport Campus. This exhibition is a vibrant exploration of Diaz’s Mexican American identity, featuring 37 new and recent works on paper and canvas.

The title, Wait ’til Your Mother Gets Home, resonates as a familiar expression from Diaz’s childhood, echoing the dual nature of the phrase as both an admonition and a forecast. It becomes a thematic thread, weaving through Diaz’s vivid exploration of the domestic sphere and the broader world in portraits and landscapes of people and places that inform her memories growing up in Los Angeles and Mexico.

As Diaz expressed in 18SAC’s press release, “These works reveal meaning in relation to others, to experience, to memory, to story, to dreams and dreamers, to imagination and to the larger context of home.”

The centerpiece of the exhibition, The Silver Dollar (2021), pays homage to Rubén Salazar, the civil rights activist and Los Angeles Times reporter. Salazar was killed by an L.A. County Sheriff’s tear gas projectile on Aug. 29, 1970, during the National Chicano Moratorium protest against the Vietnam War. Diaz’s piece serves as a poignant reminder of Salazar’s unwavering support for the Chicano movement and his pivotal role in journalism, making him a symbol of resilience in the face of injustice.

The exhibition also features five self-portraits that are mounted on large-scale banners on 18SAC’s Glider Wall, a publicly visible, outdoor, street-facing space.

Born in Los Angeles, Diaz is a writer, teacher, and multifaceted artist known for working across painting, installation, video, and performance. Co-founder of the socially engaged collective and community artist space Slanguage, Diaz’s work fosters dialogue among diverse communities, exploring social, subcultural, and marginalized narratives. Her work has been exhibited at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, and the Serpentine Gallery, to name a few.

CalArts Wild Beast | Image by California Institute of the Arts
PUBLISHED BY Elizabeth McRae

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