Latinx Artist Fellowship

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Maria Gaspar

Interdisciplinary artist

Chicago, IL

Maria Gaspar

Instagram @maria__gaspar

My artistic practice addresses issues of spatial justice in order to amplify, mediate, or divert structures of power through individual and collective gestures. Using installation, sculpture, performance, sound, and collaborative approaches, my work negotiates visibility, belonging, and the politics of location. As an artist examining the social anatomy of place, I am involved in negotiating the relationship between place, power, and body. For this reason, my artistic practice seeks to confront issues of proximity to uncover matters of boundaries and provoke eventual “boundary-crossing.” By implementing the body as a compass—not only navigating geography or proximity, but the feeling and subjectivity of place, I mark the perceptual and political by moving between material encounters and social ones. In my large-scale public interventions, I work with a variety of community members and publics to generate a form of collective meaning-making.

Maria Gaspar (she/hers) is a Chicago-born interdisciplinary artist whose practice addresses issues of spatial justice to amplify, mediate, or divert structures of power through individual and collective gestures. Her body of work responds to the perceptual and political manifestations of place through multi-year projects that span a range of formats and scales. They include sound performances at a military site (Sounds for Liberation; New Haven, CT); long-term public art interventions at the largest jail in the country (96 Acres Project and Radioactive: Stories from Beyond the Wall; Chicago); and audio-video works, documenting a prison demolition located in her childhood neighborhood (Ellipses; Chicago). Working within historically marginalized sites and histories, Gaspar contends with erasure, power, and proximity issues by generating liberatory actions with others. Influenced by the hyper-local, Gaspar challenges understandings of geography and the social constructions of space by mediating and subverting the familiar or unseen to provoke new interpretations. 

Gaspar is the recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship for the Creative Arts, United States Artists Fellowship, Frieze Impact Prize, Joan Mitchell Emerging Artist Grant, Art Matters Award, Imagining Justice Art Grant, Robert Rauschenberg Artist as Activist Fellowship, and Creative Capital Award. Other honors include the Sor Juana Women of Achievement Award in Art and Activism from the National Museum of Mexican Art and the Chamberlain Award for Social Practice from the Headlands Center for the Arts. Gaspar has exhibited extensively at venues including MoMA PS1, New York, NY; the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX; and the African American Museum, Philadelphia, PA. She is an Associate Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, holds an MFA in Studio Arts from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY.

Selected Works

Images projected onto a wall show two large winged figures with heads shaped like security cameras on either side of a group of five human figures, one of whom is kicking a ball. Spotlights are cast from the winged figures’ heads.
A woman stands in front of an image of a large, grey wall that has been installed in a gallery. Sparse vegetation is visible at the bottom of the wall.
A pair of hands arrange black text printed on strips of white paper against an off-white background. The top row of text reads: “Open build house build turn over build form and hold flow up to.” Beneath that row, a piece of paper reads “Division VI.” The hands hover over a row of strips readings “1979992 men with 24 protest the living care.” Additional strips are visible, as is a roll of adhesive tape and scissors, but the text is obscured.