Alexandra Annette Grant
April 4, 1973
Fairview Park, Ohio U.S.
Alexandra Annette Grant (born April 4, 1973) is an American visual artist who examines language and written texts through painting, drawing, sculpture, video, and other media. She uses language and exchanges with writers as a source for much of that work. Grant examines the process of writing and ideas based in linguistic theory as it connects to art and creates visual images inspired by text and collaborative group installations based on that process. She is based in Los Angeles.
Early life and education
Grant was born in Fairview Park, Ohio, to a Scottish geology professor and a political science professor, American foreign-service diplomat, and educational administrator based in Africa and the Middle East. Her parents, who both spent time in Africa, divorced when she was young and she lived with her mother, who was based in Mexico City. In Mexico City, she attended a British school that was made up of a multi-national student body. When she was 11 years old, Grant attended a boarding school, the Thomas Jefferson School, in St. Louis, Missouri for a year. Shortly thereafter, she moved with her mother to Paris, where she attended the International School of Paris. From these experiences in various locations in Europe and the Middle East, Grant is multi-lingual, and speaks English, Spanish, and French.
In 1995, Grant graduated from Swarthmore College with a BA in history and studio art. In 2000, Grant graduated from San Francisco's California College of the Arts with an MFA in drawing and painting.
In 2007, Grant had her first solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles, curated by Alma Ruiz. A catalog from the exhibition features Grant's large-scale works on paper, an essay on Grant's work by Ruiz, and an essay that inspired Grant by the French writer and philosopher Hélène Cixous.
Grant's work has been described as a "radical collaboration", that is, work made in collaboration with the text and work of other writers and artists, and is often participatory and ongoing. The longest exchange has been with the pioneering writer of hypertext fiction, Michael Joyce. The paintings and sculpture based on Joyce's texts (using them as scores or scripts to interpret rather than follow) have been the subject of at least three series: the "Ladder Quartet" (shown at MOCA in 2007), the "Six Portals" (shown at Honor Fraser gallery in 2008), and "Bodies" (shown at Honor Fraser gallery in 2010).
In 2008 she participated in Edgar Arceneaux’s Watts House Project, a non profit group that aimed to renovate houses across the Watts Towers, in Los Angeles. Each of the households who agreed to participate in the project was appointed a team of an artist and an architect to remodel their homes. The initial plan for Grant’s “Love House” was to build a large construction of her brands’ logo (LOVE) over the house. However, years passed with no major constructions taking place to any of the houses and a dispute with the IRS and the Watts House project in general, has prevented it to come to fruition. Grant resigned from the projects’ board but is still raising funds in order to complete the “Love House”. No work has been completed as of yet.
In 2013, Grant collaborated on twin series of exhibitions with Cixous, based on the latter's book Philippines. The "Forêt Intérieure/Interior Forest” exhibition first took place at 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica, and at Mains d’Oeuvres in Saint-Ouen, France. Participants joined Grant in creating large-scale drawings of Cixous's novel, which touched on many themes including telepathy in Cixous and the work of Jacques Derrida and Sigmund Freud. Grant and Cixous spoke about their telepathic relationship in 2013 as part of a conversation from Mains d’Oeuvres to Nottingham Contemporary in 2016. 18th Street Arts Center published the “Forêt Intérieure/Interior Forest” to thank the many participants in the project, a catalog which includes photographs of both exhibitions, and essays by Cixous, Grant, curator Pilar Tompkins Rivas, Robert Nashak, and a transcription of Grant's 2013 conversation with Cixous.
In 2013, Grant continued this work in the series called “Century of the Self". The first exhibition was “Drawn to Language" at USC's The Fisher Museum in 2013, followed by a show at Lora Reynold's Gallery in Austin, TX in 2014, at the 2015 Venice Biennial in an exhibition called “We Must Risk Delight: 20 Artists from Los Angeles” and in a two-person exhibition with Steve Roden at the Pasadena Museum of California Art that was called “These Carnations Defy Language.” These works were inspired by the documentary film Century of the Self by BBC documentarian Adam Curtis.
In 2015, Grant exhibited her work in a painting called “Antigone 3000” inspired by the Greek myth, and specifically a phrase in Sophocles's play where Antigone confronts her uncle Creon—the king—and says, “I was born to love not to hate.” Works from Antigone 3000 have been shown at the Barnsdall Art Center, when Grant won the City of Los Angeles Mid-Career Artist Award (COLA) in 2015 and most recently in 2017 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) as part of the exhibition “L.A. Exuberance: Recent Gifts by Artists.”
In 2017, Grant wrote the text for "Antigone is me" with her sister, Florence Grant, which is meant to capture the ancient Greek myth Antigone in a contemporary scene. The exhibit was a community-based project installation held at The Eastern Star Gallery at The Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles.
Grant has worked as a professor. From 2009 to 2011, she was an adjunct professor at Art Center College of Design (Pasadena, CA). In 2010, Grant taught an MFA seminar at Cal State Northridge and from 2013 to 2014 was a mentor in the Pacific Northwest College of Art's Distance MFA program. In 2015, Grant was an MFA program mentor at Syracuse University, and co-taught a course with Isabelle Lutterodt at Ashesi University in Accra, Ghana.
In 2015, as part of a residency at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art in Omaha, Nebraska, Grant directed a documentary film called Taking Lena Home. The film was about returning a stolen tombstone to rural Nebraska.
In 2009, Grant met actor Keanu Reeves at a social event. This led to Ode to Happiness, published by Gerhard Steidl in early 2011, Grant's first collaboration with Reeves. It was Grant's first artist book and Reeves’ first book as a writer.
In 2016, Grant and Reeves reunited for their second collaboration, Shadows, a book and suite of photographic images printed by Steidl in Germany. The photographs were exhibited at ACME Gallery in Los Angeles, and Ochi Gallery in Sun Valley, ID. As part of the release of the book, Grant did a collaboration with artist Alia Raza for Issue magazine that featured fashion and shadows.
X Artists' Books
Selected awards and honors
- 2011: California Community Foundation, Fellowship for Visual Artists, FVA fellow – Mid-Career Artist Grant
- 2013: 18th Street Arts Center (Santa Monica, CA), residency
- 2015: Bemis Center for Contemporary Art (Omaha, NE), residency
- 2015: City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, COLA 2015, Individual Artists Fellowship
- 2018: SOMA (Mexico City, Mexico), residency
- 2019: Vermont Studio Center (Johnson, VT), visiting artist
Selected solo exhibitions
- 2013: "Forêt Intérieure/Interior Forest", 18th Street Arts Center (Santa Monica, CA) and Mains d'Œuvres (Saint-Ouen, France)
- 2016: “ghost town”, 20th Bienal de Arte Paiz (Guatemala City, Guatemala) collaboration with the poet Vania Vargas on a large-scale participatory drawing project
- 2017: "Antigone is you is me", Eastern Star Gallery, Archer School for Girls (Los Angeles, CA)
- 2019: "Born to Love", Lowell Ryan Projects (Los Angeles, CA)
Selected group exhibitions
- 2012: "Postscript: Writing After Conceptual Art", Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (Denver, CO)
- 2012: "Drawing Surrealism", Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA)
- 2013: "Drawn to Language", work entitled "Century of the Self", USC Fisher Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA)
- 2014: "Postscript: Writing After Conceptual Art", MSU Broad Museum at Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI)
- 2015: "These Carnations Defy Language" by Alexandra Grant and Steve Roden, Pasadena Museum of California Art (Pasadena, CA)
- Grant, Alexandra; Ruiz, Alma (organized by) (2007). MOCA Focus: Alexandra Grant. Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art. ISBN 9781933751016. OCLC 124037888. – Catalog of an exhibition held at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Apr. 26-Aug. 13, 2007
- Reeves, Keanu (text by); Grant, Alexandra (drawings by, book design by) (2011). Bergam, Janey (ed.). Ode to Happiness. Göttingen: Steidl Publishers. ISBN 9783869302096. OCLC 756797130.
- Reeves, Keanu (texts by); Grant, Alexandra (photographs by) (2014). Shadows: A Collaborative Project by Alexandra Grant and Keanu Reeves. Göttingen: Steidl Publishers. ISBN 9783869308272. OCLC 965117169.
- Grant, Alexandra (2014). Grasshoppers. Osceola, NE: Polk County Historical Society.
- Cixous, Hélène; Grant, Alexandra; Nashak, Robert (essay by); Rivas, Pilar Tompkins (essay by); Whitelegg, Isobel (essay by) (2016). Forêt intérieure = Interior forest: A participatory art project by Alexandra Grant in collaboration with Hélène Cixous (in English and French). Santa Monica, CA & Saint-Ouen, France: 18th Street Arts Center & Mains d'Oeuvres. ISBN 9780990811916. OCLC 1005899837. Archived from the original (exhibition catalog) on 2019-11-05. Retrieved 2019-11-05. – Exhibition at 18th Street Arts Center, Santa Monica, April 15-June 28, 2013, and at Mains d’Œuvres, Saint-Ouen, France, August 24-October 27, 2013
- Grant, Alexandra; Wood, Eve (images by) (2017). The Artists' Prison. South Pasadena: X Artists' Books. ISBN 9780998861616. OCLC 1057672451.
- 2004: "she taking her space (after Michael Joyce's "he taking the space of")", Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) (Los Angeles, CA)
- 2007: "Wallpaper (la escalera al cielo)", Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) (Los Angeles, CA)
- 2016: "Shadow (5)", after Keanu Reeves's “You are not here not even,” Blanton Museum of Art (Austin, TX)
- Grant, Alexandra (1 May 2013). "On Telepathy and Philippines: A Conversation with Alexandra Grant and Hélène Cixous". KCET.
- Brévart-Demm, Carol (September 2007). "Brushes All Sticky With Words: Alexandra Grant '94 Uses Art to Create Her Own Special Mother Tongue" (PDF). Swarthmore College Bulletin. Swarthmore College. pp. 16–21, 79.
- Brennan, Mike (2008). "Alexandra Grant: A Way with Words - article and interview featuring the US contemporary painter". Modern Edition.
- Schad, Ed (2008). "Interview with Alexandra Grant". ArtSlant. Archived from the original on 18 March 2011.
- Chalokwu, Christopher I.; Dent-Read, Cathy; Hughes, John M.; McMahon-Klosterman, Kathy (1999). "A Memorial to Norman K. Grant". Miami University.
- "Marcia A. Montin Engaged to Wed Norman Grant; Ph.D. Student Fiancee of Lecturer -- Both at U. of Ibadan, Nigeria". The New York Times. 24 October 1965.
- Brévart-Demm, Carol (December 2002). "Liberal Arts in a Conservative Land: Two Swarthmoreans Help Start a Women's College in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia" (PDF). Swarthmore College Bulletin. Swarthmore College. pp. 26–31.
- Ashesi University (28 November 2014). "Six lessons we have learned from 75 years of Dr. Marcia Grant's life". The Ashesi Bulletin. Medium.
- Swanberg, Jan (13 August 2013). "Founding Universities At Age 60!". Partners in Adventure.
- Grant, Marcia A. (8 July 2014). "Commencement Speaker: Marcia A. Grant '60". Swarthmore College.
- Bloom, Alfred H. (8 July 2014). "President Bloom's Charge to Marcia A. Grant '60". Swarthmore College.
- "Art & Life with Alexandra Grant". VoyageLA. 2 July 2018.
- "Phillips Exeter Academy". Phillips Exeter Academy. Retrieved 2021-05-05.
- "Love Is A Battlefield: Artist Alexandra Grant's "Antigone 3000"". California Home+Design. Retrieved 2021-05-05.
- "CV: Alexandra Grant" (PDF). Alexandra Grant. July 2019.
- Grant, Alexandra; Ruiz, Alma (organized by) (2007). MOCA Focus: Alexandra Grant. Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art. ISBN 9781933751016. OCLC 124037888.
- "Alexandra Grant: 2011 Fellowship for Visual Artists". California Community Foundation. 2011.
- McNeill, Mark "Frosty" (11 September 2019). "On activating the power of language". The Creative Independent.
- Mizota, Sharon (28 August 2015). "Two artists try to portray the indescribable at Pasadena Museum of California Art". Los Angeles Times.
- "Alexandra Grant: Antigone is you is me". The Eastern Star Gallery. 2017.
- Finkel, Jori (15 December 2010). "It Speaks to Me: Alexandra Grant on R.B. Kitaj's 'How to Read' at LACMA". Los Angeles Times.
- Logan, Casey (4 August 2015). "Baby girl's missing headstone returned to Nebraska, 70 years later". Omaha World Herald.
- Miller, Ken (1 March 2011). "Q+A: Alexandra Grant and Keanu Reeves Collaborate, Happily". Art in America.
- Rose, Steve (15 June 2011). "How Keanu Reeves cheered up". The Guardian.
- Lakin, Max (16 August 2018). "Keanu Reeves Is Doing a New Thing: Publishing Books". The New York Times.
- Daswani, Kavita (24 February 2016). "Keanu Reeves stars in the art book 'Shadows' by L.A. artist Alexandra Grant". Los Angeles Times.
- Grant, Alexandra (images by); Raza, Alia (featuring) (2016). "Making Shadows". Issue magazine.
- French, Agatha (19 July 2017). "Keanu Reeves is a publisher of the new L.A. press X Artists' Books". Los Angeles Times.
- "2011 Fellows: Fellowship for Visual Artists". California Community Foundation. 2011.
- "Alexandra Grant, Exhibition & Residency: April 15 – June 28, 2013". 18th Street Arts Center. 2013.
- "Residency : By Year : 2015 : Alexandra Grant". Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. 2015. Archived from the original on 2019-11-05. Retrieved 2019-11-05.
- Caperton y Montoya, Will (24 April 2015). "City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs presents the 2015 City of Los Angeles (C.O.L.A.) Individual Artist Fellowships Honoring the City's Creative Spirit" (PDF). City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.
- "Alexandra Grant, 02 / NOV / 18 – 19 / NOV / 18". SOMA Mexico. 2018. Archived from the original on 2019-11-05. Retrieved 2019-11-05.
- "Visiting Artist: Alexandra Grant". Vermont Studio Center. 17 March 2019.
- Rivas, Pilar Tompkins (6 September 2013). "Welcome to Alexandra Grant's Interior Forest". KCET.
- Barry, Robert (26 November 2013). "Forêt Intérieure reviewed on Frieze.com by Robert Barry". Frieze Magazine.
- "Alexandra Grant, Born to Love: June 1 – July 6, 2019". Lowell Ryan Projects. June–July 2019.
- Dambrot, Shana Nys (4 July 2019). "Alexandra Grant Chooses Love at Lowell Ryan Projects". LA Weekly.
- "Postscript: Writing After Conceptual Art (22 June – 2 September 2013)". The Power Plant. 2013.
- "Exhibition: Drawing Surrealism (October 21, 2012-January 6, 2013)" (PDF). Los Angeles County Museum of Art. 10 August 2012.
- Grant, Alexandra; Ingold, Kate; Silton, Susan; Downing, Holly; St. John, David; Flores, Demián; Downs, Lila; Cohen, Paul (2013). Drawn to Language: Alexandra Grant, Kate Ingold, Susan Silton, Holly Downing, David St. John, Demián Flores, Lila Downs, Paul Cohen. Los Angeles: USC Fisher Museum of Art. ISBN 9780945192435. OCLC 918989254.
- "Postscript: Writing After Conceptual Art (Mar. 21 – Sept. 21, 2014)". MSU Broad Museum. 2014.
- Abrahams, Megan (October 2015). "Alexandra Grant and Steve Roden: These Carnations Defy Language". Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art.
- "she taking her space (after Michael Joyce's "he taking the space of,")". MOCA. 2004.
- "Wallpaper (la escalera al cielo)". MOCA. 2007.
- "2016 Bulletin: Acquisitions" (PDF). Blanton Museum of Art. 2016. p. 40.