Meet Our 2019 Resident Artists

While it made the choice more difficult, our team was thrilled to receive 5x more applicants for this year’s residency program. After months of review, we’re proud to introduce the three artists chosen by the committee as our 2019 Resident Artists. You’ll get to know more about them and their work over the 9-month residency program which will culminate in three gallery shows during the 6th Annual Level Ground Festival this fall.

>> Want to support this year’s resident artists? 100% of your membership support goes to the residency program.


Evelyn quijas (She/her)

Evelyn is a Mexican-American artist born to immigrant parents in Los Angeles. Her experience in the art world includes teaching, children’s book illustrations, commissioned paintings, nude-modeling, and working in contemporary art galleries. Her work aims to release ancestral trauma as she reflects the perpetual search for a definitive “brown or white” identity. Currently, her work pairs Mesoamerican mythology and modern Mexican culture (which is an intersection of Spanish colonization and indigenous land). Although the Spanish Conquest recorded in history books and LA’s current gentrification are divided by hundreds of years and thousands of miles, they syncopate within her multimedia visual work.


Evelyn’s residency project, currently titled Mas Maras, will be a series of paintings, mixed-media collages, full-body sculptures, and piñata masks. Incorporating the bright colors of modern Mexican culture, as well as the profound history and origins of ancient Mexican culture, her work will blend concepts of ancestry and mythology. The objects will be of profound personal significance. Whether a piece of obsidian, or a remnant of a wind chime from her family home, each is imbued with an otherworldly energy that she will bring to life in an interactive and exploratory gallery installation.


gazelle samizay (She/her)

Gazelle Samizay is a first generation Afghan American with 15 years of artistic experience. She works primarily with video to play with time, placing past narratives and present realities in parallel. Her work often explores the themes of personal growth and the search for freedom despite the expectations of gender. Recently, she’s begun exploring structural oppression, pondering how collective memories and shame take form. She strives to create work that will provide space for communal reckoning and healing.


Maskhara (working title) is a surrealist short film that illustrates the socialization of an Afghan American girl as she struggles between the pull of her own self-expression and individuality and the pressures and rewards of group acceptance. The film opens following a ribbon down a path. Suddenly, the young girl encounters masked homogenous figures. Each mask is marked by Farsi calligraphy, denoting various status indicators in Afghan (and American) culture. The film ends with the girl frantically trying to free herself, pulling at the mask until she finally rips it off, collapsing to the ground. Perhaps this was just a child’s nightmare, but as the camera zooms out, we see a multitude of black ribbons strewn around her curled body. Through the masked characters the viewer encounters the demands placed on those who exist between cultures.


Tristan espinoza (He/they)

Tristan Espinoza is a Filipinx-American digital artist and educator who was introduced to programming not through engineers, but via artists. He studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), obtaining a BFA while focusing in the school’s Art and Technology Studies Department. Tristan uses programming and 3D modeling + animation to make work that ranges from interactive design to video games, multimedia installations to machine learning projects. As a 1.5 generation immigrant, he forefronts his diasporic experience to negotiate the joys and struggles of a shifting home while also establishing platforms for unique, but connected, narratives.

About the project

Tristan’s residency project will explore moments of overlap and invite ways of connecting that are inherently collaborative. The finished work will be an interactive, computer vision-based application that tracks human figures and creates forms based on the intersection of participants’ bodies. Certain parameters, like size and how long it’s been “alive,” will serve to control the work’s formal qualities. Tristan will build a computer powerful enough to support the application and develop it with C++. The final installation will be a fully immersive experience about relationships and interactions that define and negotiate the boundaries between us.


What happens next? 

Over the next 9 months, the Level Ground Residency Staff will work with our three residents as they develop and create their residency projects. Level Ground will serve as friends, collaborators, mentors, managers, and producers.

Each resident will present a work-in-progress at a Group Show in Los Angeles this May. They will then premiere their work as an interactive solo gallery show produced by Level Ground during our 6th Annual Level Ground Festival this fall. Sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Instagram to stay in the loop.

The Level Ground Collective

As Level Ground continues to support underrepresented artists and experimental projects at the intersections of identity, we are excited to announce The Level Ground Collective. From April to August, we’re hosting monthly workshops where artists can learn from experts in fields ranging from accounting to museum curation to cross-medium collaboration. We’ll also share creative job postings and artistic opportunities through The Collective newsletter.

Level Ground hopes to partner with and equip an emerging generation of artists who are motivated to create cultural change.

Our resident artists (current and alumni) will form the backbone of this Collective community. We are currently extending an open invitation to all artists interested in cultural change, experimentation, collaboration, and empathy. We hope you’ll join the Collective this year. Learn more and sign-up here.

The goals of level ground’s residency program

1. To mentor and produce underrepresented artists in the creation and exhibition of a new, multi-media, and collaborative work that will premiere as an interactive gallery show during the annual Level Ground Festival.

2. To spark provocative conversations and interactions—rooted in empathy and a desire for cultural critique and change—between the artist, their work, and the evolving Level Ground community. 

3. To encourage residents in experimenting with new mediums, collaborators, and/or subjects.

4. To support the professional growth and network of residents, while nurturing their mental and personal wellbeing. 

5. To foster community for residents—among themselves as a cohort and also reciprocated within the entire Level Ground Collective.

Support Level Ground’s Residency Program by becoming a member today!