the main museum presents dora de larios other worlds

Last Updated on April 9, 2021

Exhibition to feature work by Mexican American L.A. artist and will celebrate De Larios’s recently commissioned permanent installation at the museum’s entry; Other Worlds will inaugurate The Main’s new 2,750-square-foot mezzanine gallery

On view at Beta Main, the test site for The Main Museum
February 25May 13, 2018

Dora De Larios in her Culver City studio (photos by Christopher Sullivan)

LOS ANGELES—The Main Museum presents Dora De Larios: Other Worlds, an exhibition highlighting the work of L.A. native and noted ceramist Dora De Larios, one the city’s most vital, yet under-recognized artists. Dora De Larios: Other Worlds showcases clay work from the artist’s six-decade-long career and will inaugurate the new 2,750-square-foot mezzanine gallery, marking one in a series of public openings tracking the ongoing evolution and completion of The Main. In advance of the exhibition, De Larios was commissioned to create a large-scale permanent concrete work on the sidewalk in front of the museum. Dora De Larios: Other Worlds will be on view February 25–May 13, 2018, at Beta Main, test site for The Main Museum, and the newly commissioned concrete work to be unveiled later this year.

De Larios grew up in Boyle Heights and graduated from the University of Southern California with a bachelor of fine arts in ceramics and a minor in sculpture in 1957, a time when women, people of color, and ceramic artists were not highly visible in the art world. She operated outside of the gallery system by necessity, carving space for her and her work by starting Irving Place Studio, an independent studio practice, and through large-scale commissions in California, Hawaii, Tahiti, and Japan. Her identity as a Mexican-American woman in a male-dominated art world is deeply reflected in her concentration on and forefronting of the feminine form. De Larios’s work is also connected to Mexico, her ancestral home and a country she visited often as a child, and to Africa, Asia, and other places she has spent time in outside of her lifelong home of Los Angeles. Her ceramics often transcend earthly forms—mythological, goddess-like figures are frequent, and unplaceable, yet familiar animals are common in her works. 

“We are delighted to bring the worlds of Dora De Larios to The Main. Not only is her work otherworldly and sublime, but I truly believe Dora herself is one of the city’s greatest treasures,” said Allison Agsten, director of The Main. “To be able to welcome the public to our new mezzanine gallery with an exhibition of works by one of Los Angeles’s leading ceramists is a dream come true.”

New Mezzanine Gallery

The exhibition will be the first in the museum’s new 2,750-square-foot mezzanine gallery, which is currently under construction. In keeping with The Main’s goal to reveal the raw beauty of the historic Hellman building and efficiently use existing space, the museum is transforming space on the mezzanine level into an open-plan gallery with concrete floors, open ceilings, original intact brick walls, and 40 feet of glass windows overlooking the first-floor gallery.

Rendering of The Main’s new mezzanine gallery (courtesy of Land Office)

The museum is working with Downtown L.A.–based architectural firm Land Office and principal architect Nora Gordon on the next phase of the museum’s development, which includes the new mezzanine gallery, an artist-in-residence studio complex featuring five studios, and staff offices. In October 2016, The Main opened the first Beta Main space, a 3,500-square-foot gallery on the ground floor level of the museum. The addition of the new mezzanine gallery will bring the museum’s current total square footage of public space to 6,250 square feet and total overall square footage to 11,500. The museum will continue to open additional spaces of its total 100,000-square-foot complex in phases over the coming years.

New Commission of Work by Dora De Larios

In advance of Dora De Larios: Other Worlds, the artist was commissioned by The Main to create a large-scale permanent concrete work on the sidewalk in front of the museum. The piece will be produced in the distinct style of De Larios’s ceramic works translated into concrete. The design will include carvings of rolling clouds and the sun. Mandalas, or circles, are key motifs in De Larios’s work, alluding to her vivid first experience seeing the Aztec calendar as a child visiting Mexico City with her parents. Fabrication and construction of the work will begin later this year. 

Dora De Larios: Other Worlds is organized by Allison Agsten, director of The Main, with Monica Rodriguez, curatorial associate.  


Dora De Larios was an American ceramist and sculptor who worked with clay for more than 60 years. Born in Los Angeles in 1933 to Mexican immigrants, her heritage and relationship to pre-Columbian art is evident in her work, which embodies themes of spirituality, nature, and mythology. De Larios graduated in 1957 with a bachelor of fine art in ceramics and a minor in sculpture from the University of Southern California’s School of Fine Art, where she studied under noted ceramists Vivika Heino, Otto Heino, and Susan Peterson. Over time, De Larios broadened her focus to include work in cast concrete, brass, stainless steel, acrylic, and wood, completing a variety of large-scale architectural commissions. Her ceramic sculptures were featured in three major exhibitions as part of the J. Paul Getty Museum’s Pacific Standard Time in 2011, and she was honored with a 50-year retrospective at the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles in 2010. De Larios’s work is currently part of Found in Translation, a Pacific Standard Time: Latin American and Latino Art in LA (PST: LA/LA) exhibition at LACMA. De Larios passed away at the age of 84 in January 2018. Up until her death, Dora continued to create, painting and drawing almost daily.


The Main Museum’s mission is to engage the public with the most important ideas of our time through the art of Los Angeles. With a residency program at its center rather than a collection, The Main forefronts artists in its work and supports wide-ranging practices from artists at all stages in their careers.

When complete, The Main will include a variety of exhibition galleries, additional studio spaces for its artist residency program, a rooftop plaza including a heated amphitheater and cafe, and a restaurant. For more information on The Main and to sign up for updates, visit


True to its name, Beta Main is a space for testing and learning in anticipation of the creation of The Main. Throughout all phases of The Main’s development, which includes exhibitions, artist residencies, and public programs mounted by Beta Main, the institution will continue to refine its vision and methods as it learns from the community, artists, experimentation, and Downtown Los Angeles.