Malisa Humphrey

Malisa HumphreyArtist’s Statement

My recent work is concerned with the construction of cultural identity and how hegemony strengthens its position through the seemingly apolitical aesthetics of interior design.

The installation A Guest, A Host, A Ghost looks at the persistent aesthetics of colonialism. In this work, I use patterns and textiles based on the designs of Jim Thompson, an American expatriate designer who was also discovered to be a US Intelligence agent serving US interests in South East Asia. I use these designs to create a large, wallpapered façade violently punctured by a column fabricated from the detritus of a destroyed Orientalist room. An image of this untouched room hangs in the installation and repeats infinitely within the photo. Looking at the construction of “the other” in the works of Thompson, Joseph Conrad, Somerset Maugham, Graham Greene, and Rudyard Kipling, as well as these cultural producers’ personal involvement in outside military interests, A Guest, A Host, A Ghost suggests that artistic work is not a disguise for military involvement, but a parallel act: these are two distinct functions of the same operation.

I am currently continuing to mine the visual legacy of colonialism, working with antique wallpapers that illustrate conquest and continue to be found decorating state and federal buildings, such as the White House.



Select Solo Exhibitions from 2011-2016

A Guest, A Host, A Ghost, Elephant, Los Angeles, CA

Select Group Exhibitions from 2011-2016

SKIN, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
In Chambers, Ms Barbers, Los Angeles, CA

Shangri-La, Joshua Tree, CA (organized by Steven Bankhead and Jesse Benson)

The Open Daybook, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA

Select Fellowships and Awards

Artist Fellowship, Vermont Studio Center Residency, Johnson, Vermont

Barbara Poole Scholarship, Banff Centre for the Arts, Alberta, Canada

Teaching Artist Fellowship, The Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, CA

Russell Grant, University of California, San Diego 

Select Community-based Artwork

Would Be Saboteurs Take Heed!, Women’s Center for Creative Work, Los Angeles, CA

2013 – 2015
ArtworxLA, Los Angeles, CA. 


M.F.A., 2005
University of California, San Diego

B.A., 1996
University of California, Berkeley