Todd Gray

Todd Gray, American, b. 1954

Todd Gray is an American artist living and working in Los Angeles, California. While Gray’s work most often takes the form of photographic installations – wall works composed of re-contextualized images and frames – his practice also spans performance and sculpture, constantly pushing the boundaries of what is traditionally defined as having artistic merit.

Gray’s fluency in high and low culture reflects his experience as Michael Jackson’s personal photographer. His works raise questions around the cultural merit of photography as both a personal and universal method for recording history and identity, leading us to a more pointed critique of the corporate capitalization of black identity within popular culture. Grays image based installations are comprised of re-contextualized photographs from his archives. Images of Michael Jackson sit upon coastal Ghanaian landscapes, his face obscured by a far panning view of the galaxies; these collisions of iconic photographs, visibly connected through found and discarded frames, provide a glimpse into the many narratives and stories, to the possibilities, that often lie dormant within the images we are familiar with.

Todd Gray received both his BFA and MFA from the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). Recent solo and group exhibitions include the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco; Luckman Gallery, Cal State University, Los Angeles; Studio Museum, Harlem, NY; USC Fisher Museum of Art, Los Angeles; California African American Museum, Los Angeles; Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson; Detroit Museum of Art, Detroit; Renaissance Society, University of Chicago, Chicago among others. Performance works have been presented at institutions such as the Roy & Edna Disney Cal/Arts Theater, REDCAT, Los Angeles, Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, and the Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles. He was the recipient of a Rockefeller Foundation Grant in 2016.

Gray was selected for inclusion in the third edition of the Hammer Museum’s biennial Made in LA: a, the, though, only, curated by Aram Mosheyedi and Hamza Walker in June 2016, where he presented a performance work for the duration of the exhibition, outside the confines of the museum space.

Solo Shows

2016 – “Time Machine / Hippie Dandy”, Melikstetian | Briggs, Los Angeles, CA

2016 – “Todd Gray”, Lightwork, Syracuse, NY

2015 –  “Caliban in the Mirror: Exquisite Terribleness”, Samson Projects, Boston, MA

2014 –  “Exquisite Terribleness”, Meliksetian | Briggs, Los Angeles, CA

2012 – “The Gray Room”, Hagedorn Foundation Gallery, Atlanta, GA

2010 –  “Spirit Shack”, See Line Gallery, West Hollywood, CA

2005 –  “Todd Gray, Shaman”, Pablo’s Birthday, NY

2004  – “Todd Gray: Immaculate”, Luckman Gallery, California State University, Los Angeles

2003 –  “Media Tower”, Pasadena City College, CA

2002 –  “Todd Gray”, Kellogg Gallery, Cal Poly Pomona, State University

1996 – Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica, CA

1996 – Robert Koch Gallery, San Francisco, CA


Group Shows

2016 – “a, the, though, only”, Made in LA 2016, curated by Aram Moshayedi and Hamza Walker, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA

2015 – “Breath/Breadth: Contemporary American Black Male Identity”, Maier Art Museum, Randolph College, Virginia

2015 – “Above/Below/Within”, Meliksetian | Briggs, Los Angeles, CA

2015 – “Cry Me A River”, Etoile Polaire Lodge  #1, New Orleans, LA.

2015 – “Caliban in the Mirror, 2.0”, Samson Art Gallery, Boston, MA

2015 – “Black Portraitures{S} Ii: Imaging The Black Body And Re-Staging Histories”, symposium presented by NYU / Tisch School of the Arts, Florence, Italy

2015 – “Manifest Justice”, pop-up exhibition, Los Angeles, CA

2014 – “Freeway Studies #2: Inside the Quad” Ben Maltz Gallery, curated by Meg Linton, Otis College of Art,   Los Angeles

2014 – “Racial Imaginary”, Pitzer Art Galleries, Claremont, CA

2014 – “Exquisite Terribleness”, Meliksetian | Briggs Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

2014 – “Gettin’ off the Ground”, curated by Isabelle Lutterodt, Angels Gate Cultural Center, San Pedro, CA

2013 – “Go Tell It on the Mountain” California African American Museum, Los Angeles

2012 – “Sight Specific: LACPS and the Politics of Community” USC Fisher Museum of Art, Los Angeles

2012 – “Refocus: Multicultural Focus”, Arena 1, Santa Monica

2011 – “The Bearden Project”, Studio Museum in Harlem, New York

2011 – “Posing Beauty”, curated by Deborah Willis, USC Fisher Museum of Art, Los Angeles, Newark Art Museum, Figge Art Museum

2010 –  “From My Universe, Objects of Desire”, See Line Gallery, West Hollywood “Contemporary Art From The Douglas Nielsen Collection”, Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, Arizona

2009 – “Black Is Black Ain’t”, Detroit Museum of Art

2009 –  “Oz, New Offerings From Los Angeles”, Instituto Cultural Cabaña, Guadalajara , Mexico

2009 – “Posing Beauty”, curated by Deborah Willis, NYU Tisch, Gulf+Western Gallery, New York

2008 –  “Black Is Black Ain’t”, curated by Hamza Walker, Renaissance Society, University of Chicago, travels

2008 – “Twenty Years Ago Today:  Supporting Visual Artists L. A.”, curated by Rita Gonzalez and

2008 – Kris Kuramitsu, Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles

2008 –  “Truthiness:  Photography as Sculpture”, curated by Tyler Stallings, California Museum of Photography, Riverside, California

2008 – “PIX, Some Recent Photos From The Post-Filmic Era” curated by Kristina Newhouse, Torrance Art Museum, CA

2008 – “This Side of Paradise: Body and Landscape in Los Angeles Photographs” curated by Caudia Bohn-Spector and Jennifer Watts, Huntington Library, San Marino

2007 – “Celebrity”, curated by Marilu Knode, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Arizona

2007 – Houston Center for Photography, Houston, Texas

2007 – “Blacks in and out of the Box”, curated by Lisa Henry California Afro-American Museum, L.A., CA

2006 – “Gray, Korfmann, Youngblood: New Forms in Photography” Carl Berg Gallery, Los Angeles

2006 – “Brave New World”, curated by Heather Harmon and Nicole Dungao, Pharmaka Art, Los Angeles

2005 – “Framing the Triangle”, curated by Deb Willis, Goethe Institute, Accra, Ghana

2004 – “Fade, 1990-2003”, African American Art in Los Angeles, L. A.  Cultural Affairs Department, Luckman Gallery, CSULA

2001 –  “Committed to the Image”, Brooklyn Museum of Art, N. Y.

2001 – “Beyond Boundaries  Contemporary Photography in California”, The Friends of Photography, San Francisco


2000 – “Made in California 1900-2000” Los Angeles County Museum of Art

2000 – “American Dreams, 6th International Triennale” Maribor Art Gallery, Maribor, Slovenia

2000 –  “A History of African American Photographers”  Smithsonian

1998 -“Mouse: An American Icon”, Alternative Museum, New York “Presumed Innocence”,

1998 – Anderson Gallery of Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Va. , travels to: Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, OH

1998 – “City of Los Angeles Individual Artists Grant Recipients”, L. A. Municipal Gallery at Barnsdall Art Park

1997 – “Elusive Paradise: Los Angeles Art from the Permanent Collection” “Spheres of Influence”, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

1996 – “Man’s World”, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

1996 – “The Present (H)our”, Oakland Art Museum, CA.


Award and Residency

2007- Public Art Commission: Los Angeles International Airport, Video Installation, City of Los Angeles

2006 – SCAC, Assigned Time release, CSULB

2005 – Sabbatical, CSULB`

2005 – J. Paul Getty Trust Fund for the Visual Arts administered by the California Community Foundation

Visual Arts Initiative

2004 – SCAC, Assigned Time release, CSULB

2004 – Public Art Commission, L. A. Firestation #43, City of Los Angeles

2004 – Pasadena Art Alliance Grant for “Immaculate” Exhibition

2004 – Artists’ Resource for Completion Grant, The Durfee Foundation

2003 – SCAC, Assigned Time release, CSULB

2001 – SCAC, Assigned Time release, CSULB Associate Professor, CSULB

2000 – Assigned Time release, CSULB

1999 – Public Art Commissions: Jefferson Branch Library, and Baldwin Hills Branch Library, City of Los Angeles

1997 – City of Los Angeles Individual Artist Grant

1991 – Art Center College of Design – Great Teacher’s Award

1988 – Wasserman Scholarship (Cal Arts)



2012 –  Thelma Golden, Diedra Harris-Kelley, “The Bearden Project”, Studio Museum in Harlem

2010 – Sharon Mizota, “Todd Gray and Kyungmi Shin at See Line Gallery”, Los Angeles Times, August 12

2010 – Todd Gray, “Michael Jackson Fotografien, 1974-1983”, Edel Publishing, Germany

2010 – Todd Gray, “Michael Jackson Before He Was King”, P-Vine Books, Japan Todd Gray

2010 –  “Michael Jackson Antes De Ser El Rey”, NORMA Editorial, Spain

2010 – Todd Gray, “ Michael Avant Jackson”, Verlhac Editions, France

2009 – Todd Gray, “ Michael Jackson Before He Was King”, published by Chronicle Books

2008 – The Renaissance Society, “Black Is Black Ain’t”, exhibition catalogue

2006 – Holly M yers, Around The Galleries, Los Angeles Times, June 23, 2006 pg E15

2006 – Tommy Freeman, “Brave New World at Pharmaka”, Artweek, September, 2006

2005 – Charlene Roth, “Todd Gray: Immaculate” Artweek, March, 2005

2005 – Jody Zellen, “Todd Gray”, Art US, Reviews, March-April 2005 Page 7

2004 – Holly M yers, “A historical record that tends to contain blots and erasures,”

2004 – Los Angeles Times, Calendar, December 21, 2004, page E3.

2004 – Julie Joyce, “Todd Gray:  Immaculate”, exhibition catalogue, Luckman Fine Arts Complex

2003 – Mat Gleason “Art Angelenos”, Modern Painters, London, Spring 2003.

2002 – Emory Holmes, “Breaking Away From Pictures of Stereotypes”, Los Angeles Times, July 31, 2002, Art&Architecture page 57.

2001  – Vince Alleti, “Body and Soul,” Village Voice, pg. 71, March 13

1999 – Ken Johnson, “Art in Review; Choice: 99”, New York Times, December 10, 1999

1997 – Hunter Drohojowska Philip, “I Tawt I Taw a ¢!#%?! — Familiar cartoon characters take on shadowy cast  in Todd Gray’s photographs”, Los Angeles Times, Sunday Calendar, January 5, 1997

1997 –  Zellen, “Todd Gray”, Technikart, Paris, pg 72-73 December/January

1997 – Claudine Ise, “Todd Gray”, Art Issues., pg. 38, March/April 1997

1997 – Susan Otto, “Todd Gray, Shoshana Wayne Gallery” Art in America, pg.134, May, 1997

1996 – Peter Lunenfeld, “Technofornia”, Flash Art,  March/April 1996

1996 – Todd Gray, “Todd Gray: Michael Jackson Reconsidered”, see: A journal of visual culture, pg.48 – 56,

1996 – Issue 2:1 1996 Published by The Friends of Photography, MIT Press

1996 – Paul Tomidy, “the present (h)our”, catalogue, Oakland Museum of California, 1996

1990 – V. Aletti, “Photo”, The Village Voice, 2/6/90

1990 – Shelley Rice, “Promoting Pictures”, Art in America, Oct. 1990

1990 – Susan Robinson, “Implicit References”, Artweek, 3/15/90

1989 – Illustrated Bio-Bibliography of Black Photographers, 1940-1988, by Deborah Willis-Thomas

1989 – C. Gerald Fraser, “Harlem Curator Helps Redefine Photography” The New York Times, 8/6/89

1989 – Joshua Decter, “New York In Review”, Arts Magazine, December