2014 MFA Thesis

Kai Margarida-Ramirez

Born in Puerto Rico and raised in New Mexico, Kai Margarida-Ramírez developed a double sense of home which has given her a unique perspective on post-colonial, feminist, and border identity.

Establishing inter-generational collaborations with her ancestors, Kai uses photographs taken by her great-great-grandmother to explore her family mythology, storytelling, and memory. Her drawings and poetry emit from the headspace that is created during storytelling, evoking the mystery, strangeness, and improbability of her family’s tales which became her mythos.

Kai focuses mostly on paper cutting and embroidery, recreating the floor tile patterns from her great-grandmother’s house. These tile patterns are one of the few memories Kai shares with her extended family, as they all played on those floors; the tiles have come to signify family, memory, and loss. By cutting into images from her family archive, Kai inserts her hand into the largely undocumented stories of Caribbean women, weaving her story together with theirs.

Paper cutting is an irreverent medium combining an eclectic history, foreshadowing the language of stencil art, and bridging an analog form of drawing & cutting with an almost digital sense of positive and negative space.

Kai lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

Kai is a Puerto Rico-born artist who has shown nationally since 2009. Her work is in the permanent collection of the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she will return this year with her latest body of work for a paper cutting exhibition, Papel! Pico, Rico y Chico. In 2011 her work was exhibited alongside Pepón Osorio and Amalia Mesa-Bains in a group show entitled Latino/a Imaginary: Intersection of Word and Image at 516 ARTS in Albuquerque. That same year Kai attended Emerging Indigenous Voices: A New Generation of Artists, an artist residency in San Francisco. This year Kai is an Artist Fellow at the de Young Museum for a project, in partnership with La Galería de la Raza, called Paper and Blade: Storytelling Under the Knife, where she is working with paper cut artists Ian Kuali’i, Adrienne Heloise, and Mayumi Hamanaka. Kai graduated with a B.A. in Sociology and Women Studies (Summa cum Laude) from the University of New Mexico in 2007.


Kai Margarida-Ramírez / Flattened Solid/At the Window / 2013 / Embroidery on paper / 8.5x11"

Kai Margarida-Ramírez / La Danza de Nuestra Mestizaje / 2013 / Cut photograph / 3.5x4'

Kai Margarida-Ramírez / Fault Lines / 2013 / Silkscreen Print / 11x14"

Kai Margarida-Ramírez / When You Spoke With One Tongue / 2014 / Silkscreen Print and Charcoal / 22x30"

Kai Margarida-Ramírez / Re-Membered Self / 2014 / Cut paper collage / 11x14"