Maria Gaspar is an artist who often works outside of the studio. She received the Chicago Artists Coalition's MAKER Grant in 2014 and she is the founder of the 96 Acres Project, which examines the issue of power with a group of community members and addresses the impact of the Cook County Jail on Chicago’s West Side. She recently spoke to Inside\Within about her work in bridging art with community practice:
“I was making studio projects that were located within formal art institutions, and felt as if I hadn’t quite figured out how to articulate the threads between that work and my public, community-based art projects. I was making these large-scale public art projects, but then also making weird looking brown blobs in my studio. The breaking point for me was when I was doing a massive mosaic mural as part of a youth arts organization in Chicago. I was working with over fifty young people on a 1600 square feet mural made of Italian glass tile. Although I loved the experience of working collectively, the project started to feel merely decorative to me. It felt like the project was being whittled down to something that at its core wasn’t as radical as I wanted it to be. This was a profound moment that helped to define the kind of work I wanted to make, and one that intersects between various modes of working.”
Read her interview in Inside\Within.
Learn more about the MAKER Grant application, which opens in March.