Gema Alava (b. 1973 Madrid, Spain) lives and works in New York City. She has lived in Madrid, London and San Francisco, studying at the Facultad de Bellas Artes de Madrid (BFA), Universidad Complutense (MA, Education); the Chelsea College of Art and Design, The London Institute (BFA); the Academy of Art University (MFA, Painting), and at the San Francisco Art Institute (MFA, New Genres). In 2012 she was appointed Cultural Adviser to the World Council of Peoples for the United Nations.
In 1995 she was awarded second prize in Spain's National Drawing Competition, Premio Penagos, Fundacion MAPHRE, being the youngest artist and first woman to achieve such recognition. That same year she received an Erasmus Grant, and in 1997 she obtained a Fellowship for postgraduate studies in the United States from La Caixa Foundation. In 2001 she was accepted simultaneously to the emerging art programs from Aljira- A center for Contemporary Art, and the Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York City. Her first solo show in New York City was in 2002 at LANCE FUNG GALLERY. In 2011 she was nominated for and awarded a Peter Reed Foundation Fellowship for her trilogy TELL ME - FIND ME - TRUST ME (2008-2010). Participants of her art projects include artists Alison Knowles, Paul Kos, Robert Ryman, Arne Svenson, Merrill Wagner and Lawrence Weiner.
Alava has worked for a decade as a lecturer, art educator and education consultant in the Education Departments of the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Morgan Library and Museum, and the Museum of the City of New York; working with many audiences (children, teenagers, adults and seniors) in numerous programs, including Family, School, Adult, Special Events, Professional Development, VIP, as well as Access Programs specially designed for individuals and groups with disabilities.
Alava's artwork has been exhibited, presented, and/or founded by the Ministry of Education and Sciences of Spain; the Queens Museum of Art, NY; the Bronx Museum of the Arts, NY; the Rana Museum in Norway; the Morgan Library and Museum, NY; the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse, Miami, FL; CUE Art Foundation, NY; the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain; the San Francisco Art Institute, CA; New York University, NY; Columbia University, NY; the Jersey City Museum, USA; the London Institute, UK; the United Nations Building, NY; Fundacion La Caixa, Spain; Fundacion Maphre, Spain; Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, NY; the General Consulate of Spain in New York and the Cervantes Institute. Her art project A Dialogue was selected by artist Cai Guo Qiang and performed at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 2008. Her art Project Trust Me was selected by Wooloo to be performed at MANIFESTA 8, The European Biennial of Contemporary Art (Murcia), Spain.
Alava's art work has received national and international recognition in many publications including The New York Times, Diario ABC, Diario El Pais, Fiber Arts Magazine, Agencia EFE, and has been broadcasted in HITM Television, NY1 Noticias, Mega TV News, NCI Noticias, RTVE, and TVE National Television of Spain.
In 2013 Alava published the book "Tell Me the Truth 2008-2013" which was presented at TWIN Gallery in Madrid, and Instituto Cervantes in New York City. She writes for FronteraD Magazine.
Currently, Alava is focused on GEMA ALAVA STUDIO, researching the potential of her latest art projects: FIND ME, TRUST ME and TELL ME; developing workshops with ATD 4th World; and engaging directly with the public as Senior Lecturer at Private Museum Tours in New York City.