Alexandra Grant

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Alexandra Grant
Born1973 (age 45–46)
OccupationVisual artist
Years active2000–present

Alexandra Grant (born in 1973)[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] She is based in Los Angeles.[4][5]

Early life and education[edit]

Grant was born in Fairview Park, Ohio, to a Scottish geology professor[6] and a political science professor,[7] American foreign-service diplomat, and educational administrator[8] based in Africa[9] and the Middle East.[10][11][12] 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.[3] 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 in Paris. From these experiences in various locations in Europe and the Middle East, Grant is multi-lingual, and speaks English, Spanish, and French.[3][13]

In 1994, Grant graduated from Swarthmore College with a BA in history and studio art.[3] In 2000, Grant graduated from San Francisco's California College of the Arts with an MFA in drawing and painting.[14]


In 2007, Grant had her first solo exhibition at 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.[15]

Grant's work has been described as a "radical collaboration",[16] 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.[17] 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 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.[2]

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.”[18] 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. The exhibit is a community-based project installation held at The Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles.[19]

Grant has cited R.B. Kitaj as an influence.[20]


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.[citation needed]


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.[21]


In early 2011, Gerhard Steidl published Ode to Happiness, Grant's first collaboration with Keanu Reeves. It was Grant's first artist book and Reeves’ first book as a writer.[22]

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.[23] As part of the release of the book, Grant did a collaboration with artist Alia Raza for Issue magazine that featured fashion and shadows.[24]

X Artists' Books[edit]

In 2017, Grant and Reeves founded a small artist book publishing company called X Artists' Books, sometimes abbreviated XAB.[25][26]


In 2008, Grant founded the philanthropic grantLOVE project,[27] which produces and sells original artworks and editions to benefit artist projects and arts non-profits.[17] The grantLOVE project has supported arts organizations as diverse as the Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) (Los Angeles, CA),[28] The Union For Contemporary Art (Omaha, NE), among other art organizations.

Despite Grant's statements, it turns out that GrantLOVE project has not been registered with the US Internal Revenue Service as a charity.[29]

Controversies and legal issues[edit]

In 2010, Grant was sued by Cartier for copyright infringement. Grant lost the lawsuit.[30]

In November 2019, a controversy surfaced on social media, questioning Grant's behavior in the Watts housing project. The Watts real estate project was designed to help renovate existing homes, of which Grant was also a partner. She wanted to use money from a charity project to build a 20-square meter sign on the roof of a house to promote her own Love brand.[31][32]

Personal life[edit]

In 2009,Grant met actor Keanu Reeves at a dinner party, became friends, and started collaborating on a book together.[26][33]

Selected awards and honors[edit]

  • 1999: California College of Arts and Crafts, Richard K. Price Scholar
  • 2007: California Community Foundation, Artists’ Cover Award
  • 2007: Frederick R. Weisman Foundation (Los Angeles, CA) grant funding for "Wallpaper (la escalera al cielo)," 2007, a digitally-printed wallpaper to installed at MOCA, April–August 2007
  • 2007: Durfee Foundation, ARC Grant for project at Contemporary Museum (Baltimore, MD)
  • 2010: Cal State Northridge, Artist in residence
  • 2011: The Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant
  • 2011: California Community Foundation, Fellowship for Visual Artists, FVA fellow – Mid-Career Artist Grant[34]
  • 2012: CalArts (Valencia, CA), visiting artist
  • 2013: 18th Street Arts Center (Santa Monica, CA), residency[35]
  • 2015: Bemis Center for Contemporary Art (Omaha, NE), residency[36]
  • 2015: City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, COLA 2015, Individual Artists Fellowship[37]
  • 2018: SOMA (Mexica City, Mexico), residency[38]
  • 2019: Vermont Studio Center (Johnson, VT), visiting artist[39]


  • 2009–present: Watts House Project, founding board chair[40]
  • 2014–present: Project X (publisher of X-TRA), advisory board member
  • 2016–present: Bemis Center for Contemporary Art (Omaha, NE), board member[41]
Past positions

Selected exhibitions[edit]

Selected solo exhibitions[edit]

  • 2013: "Forêt Intérieure/Interior Forest", 18th Street Arts Center (Santa Monica, CA) and Mains d'Œuvres (Saint-Ouen, France)[42][43]
  • 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)[19]
  • 2019: "Born to Love", Lowell Ryan Projects (Los Angeles, CA)[44][45]
  • 2020: "Solo Booth", Marfa Invitational (Marfa, TX) – forthcoming

Selected group exhibitions[edit]

Selected collections[edit]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Grant, Alexandra; Ruiz, Alma (organized by) (2007). MOCA Focus: Alexandra Grant (Exhibition catalog). 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 (exhibition catalog) (in English and French). Santa Monica, CA & Saint-Ouen, France: 18th Street Arts Center & Mains d'Oeuvres. ISBN 9780990811916. OCLC 1005899837. – 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[42]
  • Grant, Alexandra; Wood, Eve (images by) (2017). The Artists' Prison. South Pasadena: X Artists' Books. ISBN 9780998861616. OCLC 1057672451.

Selected works[edit]

  • 2004: "she taking her space (after Michael Joyce's "he taking the space of")", Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) (Los Angeles, CA)[52]
  • 2007: "Wallpaper (la escalera al cielo)", Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) (Los Angeles, CA)[53]
  • 2016: "Shadow (5)", after Keanu Reeves's “You are not here not even,” Blanton Museum of Art (Austin, TX)[54]


  1. ^ Fernandez, Alexia (4 November 2019). "Everything to Know About Keanu Reeves' Longtime Friend Alexandra Grant". People.
  2. ^ a b Grant, Alexandra (1 May 2013). "On Telepathy and Philippines: A Conversation with Alexandra Grant and Hélène Cixous". KCET.
  3. ^ a b c d 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.
  4. ^ Brennan, Mike (2008). "Alexandra Grant: A Way with Words - article and interview featuring the US contemporary painter". Modern Edition.
  5. ^ Schad, Ed (2008). "Interview with Alexandra Grant". ArtSlant. Archived from the original on 18 March 2011.
  6. ^ Chalokwu, Christopher I.; Dent-Read, Cathy; Hughes, John M.; McMahon-Klosterman, Kathy (1999). "A Memorial to Norman K. Grant". Miami University.
  7. ^ "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.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ Ashesi University (28 November 2014). "Six lessons we have learned from 75 years of Dr. Marcia Grant's life". The Ashesi Bulletin. Medium.
  10. ^ Swanberg, Jan (13 August 2013). "Founding Universities At Age 60!". Partners in Adventure.
  11. ^ Grant, Marcia A. (8 July 2014). "Commencement Speaker: Marcia A. Grant '60". Swarthmore College.
  12. ^ Bloom, Alfred H. (8 July 2014). "President Bloom's Charge to Marcia A. Grant '60". Swarthmore College.
  13. ^ "Art & Life with Alexandra Grant". VoyageLA. 2 July 2018.
  14. ^ "CV: Alexandra Grant" (PDF). Alexandra Grant. July 2019.
  15. ^ Grant, Alexandra; Ruiz, Alma (organized by) (2007). MOCA Focus: Alexandra Grant (Exhibition catalog). Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art. ISBN 9781933751016. OCLC 124037888.
  16. ^ "Alexandra Grant: 2011 Fellowship for Visual Artists". California Community Foundation. 2011.
  17. ^ a b McNeill, Mark "Frosty" (11 September 2019). "On activating the power of language". The Creative Independent.
  18. ^ Mizota, Sharon (28 August 2015). "Two artists try to portray the indescribable at Pasadena Museum of California Art". Los Angeles Times.
  19. ^ a b "Alexandra Grant: Antigone is you is me". The Eastern Star Gallery. 2017.
  20. ^ Finkel, Jori (15 December 2010). "It Speaks to Me: Alexandra Grant on R.B. Kitaj's 'How to Read' at LACMA". Los Angeles Times.
  21. ^ Logan, Casey (4 August 2015). "Baby girl's missing headstone returned to Nebraska, 70 years later". Omaha World Herald.
  22. ^ Miller, Ken (2 March 2011). "Q+A: Alexandra Grant and Keanu Reeves Collaborate, Happily". Art in America.
  23. ^ Daswani, Kavita (24 February 2016). "Keanu Reeves stars in the art book 'Shadows' by L.A. artist Alexandra Grant". Los Angeles Times.
  24. ^ Grant, Alexandra (images by); Raza, Alia (featuring) (2016). "Making Shadows". Issue magazine.
  25. ^ French, Agatha (19 July 2017). "Keanu Reeves is a publisher of the new L.A. press X Artists' Books". Los Angeles Times.
  26. ^ a b Lakin, Max (16 August 2018). "Keanu Reeves Is Doing a New Thing: Publishing Books". The New York Times.
  27. ^ "About Us". grantLOVE project. Retrieved 5 November 2019.
  28. ^ "News – HOLA". grantLOVE project. Retrieved 5 November 2019.
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ Rose, Steve (15 June 2011). "How Keanu Reeves cheered up". The Guardian.
  34. ^ "2011 Fellows: Fellowship for Visual Artists". California Community Foundation. 2011.
  35. ^ "Alexandra Grant, Exhibition & Residency: April 15 – June 28, 2013". 18th Street Arts Center. 2013.
  36. ^ "Residency : By Year : 2015 : Alexandra Grant". Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. 2015.
  37. ^ 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.
  38. ^ "Alexandra Grant, 02 / NOV / 18 – 19 / NOV / 18". SOMA Mexico. 2018.
  39. ^ "Visiting Artist: Alexandra Grant". Vermont Studio Center. 17 March 2019.
  40. ^ "The Love House • Alexandra Grant". Alexandra Grant. 2008.
  41. ^ "Board & Staff: Alexandra Grant". Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. Retrieved 5 November 2019.
  42. ^ a b Rivas, Pilar Tompkins (6 September 2013). "Welcome to Alexandra Grant's Interior Forest". KCET.
  43. ^ Barry, Robert (26 November 2013). "Forêt Intérieure reviewed on by Robert Barry". Frieze Magazine.
  44. ^ "Alexandra Grant, Born to Love: June 1 – July 6, 2019". Lowell Ryan Projects. June–July 2019.
  45. ^ Dambrot, Shana Nys (4 July 2019). "Alexandra Grant Chooses Love at Lowell Ryan Projects". LA Weekly.
  46. ^ "Edgar Arceneaux (2008–2009): Watts House Project". Hammer Museum. 2008.
  47. ^ "Postscript: Writing After Conceptual Art (22 June – 2 September 2013)". The Power Plant. 2013.
  48. ^ "Exhibition: Drawing Surrealism (October 21, 2012-January 6, 2013)" (PDF). Los Angeles County Museum of Art. 10 August 2012.
  49. ^ 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.
  50. ^ "Postscript: Writing After Conceptual Art (Mar. 21 – Sept. 21, 2014)". MSU Broad Museum. 2014.
  51. ^ Abrahams, Megan (October 2015). "Alexandra Grant and Steve Roden: These Carnations Defy Language". Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art.
  52. ^ "she taking her space (after Michael Joyce's "he taking the space of,")". MOCA. 2004.
  53. ^ "Wallpaper (la escalera al cielo)". MOCA. 2007.
  54. ^ "2016 Bulletin: Acquisitions" (PDF). Blanton Museum of Art. 2016. p. 40.

External links[edit]