Lexa Walsh: Sisters InfoShop
in collaboration with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange,
February 4 through May 14, 2023
Opening Reception with Sisters Engaged Activities
Saturday, February 4 from 7-10pm
Sisters InfoShop, an exhibition and socially engaged residency project by Lexa Walsh, is a platform for the legacy of progressive women religious in California and beyond. With a special focus on the work and lives of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, the project is presented at Grand Central Art Center both as an installation in the gallery as well as a mobile kiosk in the public square in front of the art center, activated with programming by the Sisters.
The installation includes a timeline and materials from the Sisters’ activism situated within the context of pivotal moments in recent history of the Catholic Church and general societal issues. Additionally, Walsh has made and reconfigured seating from vintage school desks and prayer kneelers that become conversational sculptures. Throughout the exhibition is the motif of Walsh’s childhood Catholic school blue, green, and gold tartan plaid.
The public will actively engage with the Sisters inside and around the kiosk on the first Saturdays of each month, through a Human Library, Sister Ellen O’Leary’s miming, a Social Justice Fair, and multiple other socially engaged activations throughout the duration of the show. Walsh has donned the kiosk with a neon sign, murals, hand crafted flags representing the Sisters’ congregational stances, and papered inside with Sister Madeleva’s graphic artworks, which are reminiscent of the late Sister Corita Kent’s artworks. A zine is available to share the Sisters’ “100 Days of Prayer”, their timely response to the 2017 presidential inauguration.
Co-designed with Walsh and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, this collaborative project is a place for the public to learn about and engage with the Sisters and their work. The overarching theme of their work is Justice, within the framework of “Our Dear Neighbor”, creating welcoming places for belonging, alongside activism, solidarity and policy for disenfranchised communities.
Walsh is interested in what can be learned by creating temporary social justice institutions in a public square, and revealing the long activist legacy of these Sisters through a feminist lens.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Lexa Walsh is an artist and cultural worker based in Oakland. Walsh makes projects, exhibitions, publications and objects, employing social engagement, institutional critique, and radical hospitality. She creates platforms for interaction across hierarchies, representing multiple voices and inventing new ways of belonging.
Walsh is a graduate of Portland State University’s Art & Social Practice MFA program and holds a BFA in Ceramics from California College of Arts and Crafts. She was Social Practice Artist in Residence in Portland Art Museum’s Education department, received Southern Exposure’s Alternative Exposure Award, the CEC Artslink Award, the Gunk Grant, the de Young Artist Fellowship, and Kala’s Print Public Residency Award. Walsh has participated in projects, exhibitions and performances at Apexart, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Cité de la Musique, the de Young Museum, di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art, Exploratorium, Federal Hall, Kala Art Institute, Mills College Art Museum, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Oakland Museum of California, NIAD, SFMOMA, Smack Mellon, Taipei Artist Village, Walker Art Center, Williams College Museum of Art, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. She has done several international artist residencies, tours and projects.
Her upbringing as the youngest child of fifteen in a Catholic family, in a house full of trophies (that were not hers) informs her work, as does practicing collectivity while coming of age in the Bay Area post punk cultural scene of the 1990’s. Walsh founded the experimental music and performance venue the Heinz Afterworld Lounge, worked for many years as a curator and administrator at CESTA, an international art center in Czech republic, whose team created radical curatorial projects to foster cross-cultural understanding. Walsh co-founded and conceived of the all women, all toy instrument ensemble Toychestra. She founded and organized Oakland Stock, the Oakland branch of the Sunday Soup network micro-granting dinner series that supports artists’ projects. She recently launched the Bay Area Contemporary Arts Archive (BACAA), and created Consolidated Mess, a large scale project with Veterans at Marin Museum of Contemporary Art in Novato, CA.
ABOUT THE SISTERS
The history of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange spans more than 350 years. They listen to and articulate the social justice concerns of the “dear neighbor” to energize and empower people to be agents of change through advocacy, consciousness raising, prayer, action, and direct services. Additionally they serve through programs such as the St. Joseph Worker Program, Educational Initiative, Center for Spiritual Development, Healthcare Foundation, Center for Reconciliation and Justice, and Shelter for Refugee Families