Luis Ernesto Zavala





I was born in Gallatin, Tennessee, on December 30, 1982. My family were members of The Brothers of Iron, an outlaw motorcycle club, who were later incorporated into the Grim Reapers. I was raised by my great-grandmother Doris, a seamstress, and was homeschooled by my grandmother Susan, a truck-stop waitress. On weekdays I went to work with my grandmother, where I played Dungeons and Dragons with the children of other waitresses. On weekends, when my mother, Heidi, had free time, she took me to concerts. Together we saw the Melvins and Kiss at The Pyramid in Memphis, Tennessee. In my teenage years, the subculture music and films of the 80’s and 90’s inspired me. After high school, I took a ten year academic break, during which time I studied analog electronics, played guitar professionally with Yoko Ono, and spent four years as a commercial display artist, before returning to Cooper Union to complete my Bachelor’s of Fine Art degree.

My work focuses on objects related to the subcultural images of my past. I am fascinated how combinations of these objects can produce a veneer that constructs a sincere identity outside of irony. I am influenced by séances, Parker Brother’s Ouija board as a teenage icon, aura photography, messages recorded backwards, and my teenage experiences with music and film. In order to understand the phenomena manifest within objects, I deploy lenses of parapsychology, the investigation of paranormal phenomena, related to telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, and near-death experiences. I am interested in the parapsychological idea that everyday objects can contain paranormal and psychic energy.

With sculpture, video, and installation I present themes ranging from the terrestrial to the extraterrestrial, the artistic to the ethnographic, giving form to work that underscores an object’s identity and inherent meaning. I create sites that are important to my personal narrative, while blurring lines of fact and fiction. Exploring the phenomenon of subculture itself, these works are statements that create an experience between the periphery and the core that can vibrate in a web of open-ended conclusions.





San Francisco, Gto. Mexico
Lives and works in Los Angeles, California.  


California Institute of The Arts, M.F.A., Painting & Drawing
The School Of The Art Institute of Chicago, B.F.A., Painting & Drawing 

 Selected Solo Exhibitions 

Homesick, Mint Gallery. Valencia, CA.
Olympic & Alameda, Gallery D301, Valencia, CA. 

 Group Exhibitions 

Artists Assemble!, Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA), Long Beach, CA.
Distant Parallels, The Collaborative, Long Beach, CA.
After The Gold Rush: Reflections and Postscripts on the National
Chicano Moratorium of August 29, 1970, Vincent Price Art Museum, East Los Angeles, CA
Dream+Act Activism on Immigration, Self Help Graphics, Los Angeles, CA
Mash-Up, Santa Monica Art Studios, Santa Monica, CA
Migration Study, Santa Fe Lofts, Los Angeles, CA.
For Ever, Mateo 915, Los Angeles, CA.
Mid-Res Show, Gallery D300, Valencia, CA.
Take The Field, The Winfield Studio, Winfield, KS.
Code is Implement, 1926 Exhibition Space, Chicago, IL.
Other Spaces, Contemporary Art Workshop. Chicago, IL.
The BFA Show, Gallery 2. Chicago, IL.
(Un)Read Image, Gallery X. Chicago, IL.
The Picture Show, G & G. 24E Adams. Chicago, IL.
Student Show, Cerritos College Gallery. Norwalk, CA.
Community College Invitational, Cal State LA, Los Angeles, CA.
Student Show, Cerritos College Gallery. Norwalk, CA. 

Awards & Honors 

Telacu Education Foundation Fine Arts Scholarship, East LA, CA.
Award in Painting, Cerritos College Gallery, Norwalk, CA.