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Awardee: Juan William Chávez

Emerging Fields, 2013

Born in Lima, Peru, Juan William Chávez is an artist and cultural activist who creates and shares space in the built and natural environment to address community identified issues. Chavez’s studio research incorporates drawings, films, photographs, architectural interventions, and unconventional forms of beekeeping and agriculture that utilize art as a way of researching, developing and implementing creative placemaking and socially-engaged projects. His exhibitions features studio research in the form of multimedia installations. He has exhibited at venues such as Art in General, Contemporary Art Museum Saint Louis, White Flag Projects and Van Abbemuseum. Chávez founded Boots Contemporary Art Space (2006-2010), a non-profit organization that offered support to emerging artists and curators. Since 2010, Chávez has focused on socially-engaged projects and collaborations in North Saint Louis. Projects include Urban Expression for the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, Pruitt-Igoe Bee Sanctuary and Northside Workshop. He has received awards and grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Art Matters and the Gateway Foundation. Chávez holds a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and a MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

http://juanwilliamchavez.com/

Project: Pruitt-Igoe Bee Sanctuary

The Pruitt-Igoe Bee Sanctuary is a proposal for the City of St. Louis to transform the urban forest where the Pruitt-Igoe housing development once stood into a public space that cultivates community through beekeeping and preserving 33 acres of green space. Drawing parallels to the depleting population of bees and shrinking cities, this interdisciplinary project-in-progress aims to redirect the conversation surrounding Pruitt-Igoe by developing creative strategies that both memorialize the past and embrace the future. By envisioning potential in urban abandonment, we could transform one of the worst failures of public housing into a leading example of revitalization.