Gabriela Ruiz’s performance for the closing of Rafa Esparza: de la Calle at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (courtesy the artist and Oxy Arts)

Gabriela Ruiz, who also goes by the moniker Leather Papi, is a Los Angeles-based artist and designer who celebrates her Latinx identity, queer community, and kink subcultures through transgressive performances, dynamic installations, and a fashion line. Her recent debut solo museum show, Full of Tears, at the Vincent Price Art Museum, was a multimedia autobiographical tableau featuring CGI models of the artist, assemblages of found furniture, family photos, and a headless sculpture depicting her zaftig frame.

Her upcoming performance at Oxy Arts is titled “X” and investigates the numerous meanings and connotations the letter has: from the X chromosome and a symbol of death, to the Roman numeral ten and the X-shaped harness used in BDSM. “It’s playing on these multiple dynamics, it means so many things,” Ruiz told Hyperallergic.

Her performance is presented in conjunction with Oxy Art’s current exhibition L.A. Intersections, featuring portraits by the painter and tattoo artist Shizu Saldamando of her community. The two artists have a long connection, dating back to Ruiz’s time at Valley College a decade ago, when an art teacher showed her Saldamando’s work. “She showed me Shizu’s painting of a bigger drag queen,” Ruiz recalled. “I was really blown away. She was painting people who looked like me.” Years later, the two artists met in person, leading to a friendship and a portrait of Ruiz shown recently at Charlie James Gallery’s installation at the Hotel Figueroa. “This is like full circle,” she said of the painting. The circle continues with X, adding another layer to their fruitful artistic kinship.

When: Tuesday, February 25, 7pm
Where: Oxy Arts on York (4757 York Blvd., Highland Park, Los Angeles)

More info at Occidental College.

Matt Stromberg is a freelance visual arts writer based in Los Angeles. In addition to Hyperallergic, he has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, CARLA, Apollo, ARTNews, and other publications.