Maria Gaspar

She // Her // Hers

[ID: Maria, a Latinx person of Mexican-American descent, sits in her Pilsen, Chicago studio. In the backdrop of the photo are her sketches and drawing for works in progress. She wears turquoise earrings and a navy blue blouse.]

Interdisciplinary Artist
Chicago, IL
2021 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by Anonymous.

Maria Gaspar is an interdisciplinary artist born and raised on Chicago’s West Side whose work addresses issues of spatial justice in order to amplify, mobilize, or divert structures of power through individual and collective gestures. Through installation, sculpture, sound, and performance, Gaspar situates her practice within historically marginalized sites and spans multiple formats, scales, and durations to produce liberatory actions. She has spent nearly a decade working at and around the largest single-site jail in the country, Cook County Jail, in order to address the simultaneous visibility and invisibility of the carceral state within her neighborhood.

Her projects have been supported by the Art for Justice Fund, the Robert Rauschenberg Artist as Activist Fellowship, the Creative Capital Award, the Joan Mitchell Emerging Artist Grant, and the Art Matters Foundation. She has received 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.

She has exhibited extensively at venues including the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, MoMA PS1, and the African American Museum in Philadelphia. Her practice is examined in publications including Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration by Nicole Fleetwood and Fleeting Monuments for the Wall of Respect by Romi Crawford. She holds an MFA in Studio Arts from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn; Gaspar is an associate professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Portrait photo by Zeltzin Vazquez.

  • Artwork by Maria Gaspar
    FEEDBACK, 2019. Screen-printed poster booklets with 7-inch vinyl record inside hard case, art and printing by Sonnenzimmer, dimensions 7 × 7 × ¾ inches. Photo by Clare Britt.
    [ID: Square booklets and a transparent CD on display against a white background. The booklets feature a range of pink, yellow, and teal imagery.]
  • Artwork by Maria Gaspar
    Unblinking Eyes, Watching, 2019. Vinyl adhesive, dimensions 40 × 26 feet. Photo by Clare Britt.
    [ID: In a big, bright white room, a stained, cracked gray wall towers over a blurred figure. Plants grow where the wall meets the floor.]
Artwork by Maria Gaspar Artwork by Maria Gaspar