Galia Linn is a ceramicist, but her affecting, often large-scale sculptures have evolved to defy conventions of the clay genre. With a deep appreciation for the poignant humanist allegorical potential of the clay vessel as a metaphor for the human body — lush, scarred, vulnerable, violated, stalwart, enduring, beautiful. Her work is characterized by unique earth-tone rendered with crackled skins and limpid gem-tone highlights of glass and glazing, the anthropomorphic wavering of limbs and bellies, revealed internal skeletal armatures visible through the portals and fissures, and an emotional relationship to the casting of shadows. An exhibition of recent work is on view at Track 16 in downtown through July 20.

L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?

GALIA LINN: As a child I was always building environments and sculptures using whatever materials I could lay my hands on: blankets, chairs, stones and sticks, math building blocks, cardboard, clay. I did not know what that need was about.

July 1987, Houston, Texas: After completing two years of mandatory service in the Israeli Air Force, I was invited by a Jewish Community Center to teach arts & crafts at a summer camp. One weekend, a fellow counselor took me to the Houston Museum of Art. I wandered around, feeling disconnected. At one point I turned around and saw a painting at the other end of the corridor and it was causing the walls vibrate. It was Grey Lines with Black, Blue and Yellow by Georgia O’Keeffe.

December 1997, Santa Monica Pier: I was running an enterprise software company with over 30 employees, providing mission critical pattern recognition software to large corporations like IBM, Disney, Pratt & Whitney. For Christmas we took the entire company to see Cirque du Soleil’s Saltimbanco. I remember sitting there, inspired by the performance, thinking, what am I doing running a software company?

I was born and raised in Tel-Aviv, the daughter of a bus driver and a homemaker. Art had no presence in my life. I don’t remember going to museums unless it was about Jewish suffering, and definitely no galleries. My paternal grandmother worked with clay and painted, but no one treated her work as art or took her efforts seriously. Fine art was just not a thing, and definitely not a career.

The path to recognizing myself as an artist took a lot of searching and detours in subsequent decades. It was not one point, but rather a series of events that allowed me to connect the dots, leading me here.

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Galia Linn installation view at Track 16 Gallery

What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?

I make vessels. Vessels have space to receive, hold and carry. Whether it’s one piece or a large scale installation, my work is a vessel; an invitation to step inside yourself and inhabit a moment of pause; to surrender to that place and time, to connect with what we always knew and experience new possibilities.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?

Maybe I would still be a designer, animator or CEO of a software company. But I would be struggling to live. Every wrong turn, failure and scar has been a crucial learning experience and stepping stone on my path. The journey requires a bottle of wine or two for the telling. The benefit of finding my calling later in life is that I’ve already taken many paths that did not work. Arriving at the doorstep of art-making brings all that I am, all that I have been, into finally what I need to be.

Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?

Art school was not within the sphere of my life. Design and architecture school was the closest thing that could engage me and satisfy my desire to build. For 10 years I worked with structural, mechanical and electrical engineers as well as multidisciplinary fabricators. There was also a stint as freelance 3D animator. I am grateful that I am now able to put those skills to use in the service of art.

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Galia Linn studio Portrait by Jana Cruder


Why do you live and work in L.A., and not elsewhere?

I arrived in Los Angeles as an immigrant 28 years ago and since then I’ve completely reinvented myself. Hungry to engage with life in a meaningful and bold way, L.A. gave me the grounds to launch into new and daring territories. One expansion led to another and another and another, making way for my continued transformation. The feeling is huge and groundbreaking, becoming even larger when I remember that while my path is particular, it is not unique. People from all over the world are drawn to Los Angeles, embracing and contributing to this landscape of opportunity and creative drive.

My childhood in Israel instilled an intimate connection to a land full of relics from ancient civilizations. Growing up in a place where it was normal to dig into the earth and pull something from the past up into the present left an imprint that became a fertile source I can always revisit. Anyone who experiences life in two very different places, languages and cultures stretches their lens of perception to encompass multiple points of view. There is resistance there, because stretching means changing. I always seek these places of resistance because my journey is to break the stone wall of my own perception; what I appear to be and what I know I am.

When is/was your current/most recent/next show?

Evidence of Care at Track 16 is currently on view until July 20.

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Galia Linn at Track 16 Gallery

What artist living or dead would you most like to show with?

Georgia O’Keeffe and Louise Bourgeois. Georgia O’Keeffe made me realize I was an artist. Louise Bourgeois is why I continued to make art. She once said “Art is a guarantee of sanity.”

Do you listen to music while you work? If so what?
[Points to her very excellent episode of the What Artists Listen To podcast.]

Website and social media handles, please!
Instagram: @galialinn

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