My art practice negotiates visibility, belonging, and the politics of location. Using installation, sculpture, performance, sound, and participatory actions, I examine historical narratives and spatial codes, both individually and collectively. By challenging understandings of geography and place, I work to mediate, subvert, and uproot the familiar or unnoticed to provoke new powerful narratives.
The color brown is persistent in my work. It acts as signifier of isolation, displacement, and dis-belonging, relative to my family’s immigrant experience from Mexico to the United States. Growing up in Chicago, I remember public activist murals and street art concealed in brown paint by the city’s “graffiti blaster” program. The color brown came to embody both occupation and erasure. As a result, my art practice takes on public sites that are simultaneously visible and invisible, investigating them through both perceptual and political lenses. In my large-scale community-based projects, the durational, long-term, and collective are important elements. These projects require long-term and meaningful engagement in order to cultivate tender relationships within a community.
As an artist examining the social anatomy of site and location, I value the ways art speaks to the politicized body and its experience of multiple boundaries and topographies. My projects address the ways histories, both public and private, inform our experience of place and mobility (or immobility). Issues of proximity reveal issues of boundaries. Through interrogative approaches, my work manifests the crises within those divisions. Redefining the spatial imaginary is therefore an act of appearing and disappearing, of the immediacy of praxis, and the viability of poetics.
Relationship to Chicago:
Born on Chicago's West Side community of La Villita, Maria Gaspar is an interdisciplinary artist negotiating the politics of location and geography through installation, sculpture, sound, and performance. Gaspar is the founder of large-scale art projects such as City As Site (2010) and The 96 Acres Project (2012-Present), which examine the impact of incarceration through artistic interventions at the Cook County Jail located in her native community in Chicago. Gaspar’s work has been featured at venues including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, NY; Artspace, New Haven, CT; African American Museum, Philadelphia, PA; and the Alpineum Produzentengalerie in Luzern, Switzerland. Gaspar is the recipient of a Creative Capital Award, a Joan Mitchell Emerging Artist Grant, a Robert Rauschenberg Artist As Activist Fellowship, and a Sor Juana Women of Achievement Award in Art and Activism from the National Museum of Mexican Art. She recently completed a residency at Project Row Houses in Houston, TX. She is an Assistant Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Gaspar holds an MFA in Studio Arts from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY.
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Fiber Art, Installation, Multi-Media, Sculpture, Social Practice.Performance Art.