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Kia LaBeija


Kia Michelle Benbow, known professionally as Kia LaBeija, is an image maker and storyteller born and raised in the heart of New York City, Hell’s Kitchen. Her multidisciplinary approach to art making includes photography, writing, performance, collage, design, and film. She composes cinematic and theatrical autobiographical works by staging, re-imagining, sometimes documenting in real time, or all of the above. Her performative self-portraits embody memory and dream like imagery to narrate complex stories at the intersections of womanhood, sexuality, and navigating the world as an Afro-Filipina living with HIV.

She’s presented work at The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Tate Modern, The Brooklyn Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Museum of The City of New York, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The International Center for Photography, The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, Fotografiska, and the Performa ’19 Biennial. She’s been invited to speak at Harvard, MIT, Stanford, New York University and The New School among others. She’s been featured in The New York Times, W Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Dazed, BOMB Magazine and Artforum — for which she was the January 2018 cover. Highlighted commissions include Apple, WNYC, DAZED, OUT Magazine, Vice, and Triple Canopy.

Heavily involved in New York’s Iconic House and Ballroom scene for over a decade, Kia was a prominent member of the Royal House of LaBeija from 2012 to 2019, serving as the Overall Mother from 2017 to 2019. She played the title role of Dove in Band Pillar Point’s viral music video, accumulating over 12 million views on YouTube and appeared as a Principal Dancer in the pilot episode of Ryan Murphy’s Ballroom Drama POSE.

Kia received a BA from the New School University. She is a 2019 Creative Capital Awardee alongside her partner Taína Larot.

Featured Galleries

HERIDAS IN-VIH-SIBLES IN-VIH-SIBLE WOUNDS I Can Still Love You From Here Self-Portraits We're All Libraries Burning Let My Presence Be the Refusal Artistic Convergence Of Dirt & Water An Army of The Sick Can’t Be Defeated: Reflections on Care Work in Perpetual Sick Times In the Name of the Father and the Mother Haunted and Whole: Expanded LOVE POZ WOMXN Performative Objects THE MULTI-FACETED NARRATIVE OF ILLNESS He would still be living with AIDS LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN Decolonizing Fetish FIRING THE CANON Vignettes and Monotony Blue Bathroom Blues Set for Frederick Weston Stay Afloat Fashion, Fantasy, and Freedom My Sisters' Keeper I get weak from the good stuff RADIANT PRESENCE Perseverance Sampling the Self Radiant Presence: Self-Portraits from the Registry Viral Images ​Fighting for Dignity (A Letter To Kathleen White) Love Positive Women Humble Offering for All the Struggling Goddesses Yet to Walk Eyes, Lilacs & Spunk: Queer Aesthetic from Suggestion into Abstraction Here and Not Here: Some things I can’t say to your face Buscando Hogar


Collage, Installation, Mixed Media, Performance, Photography, Video / Film, Dance, Choreography, Writing, Theater, Film, Design


Activism, Autobiographical, Body, Conceptual, Design, Documentary, Erotic, Gender & Sexuality, HIV & AIDS Related, Identity, Memory, Political / Social Commentary, Pop, Portraiture, Process-Based, Queer, Representational, Research-Based, Spiritual