Maria Gaspar

Visual Arts, 2015

Born in Chicago, Maria Gaspar is an interdisciplinary artist and educator. Her artistic practice negotiates matters of geography, power, spatial justice through installation, sculpture, audio, performance, and community engagement. Gaspar has exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Alpinaeum Produzentengalerie, Switzerland; Urban Institute of Contemporary Art, MI; Artspace, New Haven; Jack Shainman Gallery, NYC; The National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, amongst many others. Her collective practice includes founding and directing large-scale projects, such as City As Site and 96 Acres, a series of community-engaged site responsive actions that negotiate the Cook County Jail's impact on the west side of Chicago through participatory installations and performance. Gaspar was featured in the Chicago Tribune as the 2014 “Chicagoan of the Year” in the Visual Arts, granted prestigious awards from the Creative Capital Foundation, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Art Matters, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, and awarded residencies at Project Row Houses in Houston and the Experimental Sound Studio in Chicago. She is an Assistant Professor at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Gaspar received her MFA in Studio Arts from the University of Illinois at Chicago and her BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY.

Awards and Accomplishments

2018: Maria Gaspar receives an award from the Art for Justice Fund.

2017: Gaspar received a 2017 grant from the Art Matters Foundation. This award will support Gaspar's social practice in Chicago and beyond.

2016: Gaspar's installation at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, Brown Brilliance Darkness Matter, is May's Critic's Pick written by Matt Morris in Artforum.

2016: Maria Gaspar will be part of the exhibition, "For Freedoms" curated and organized by Eric Gottesman and Hank Willis Thomas at Jack Shainman Gallery in NYC.

2016: Maria Gaspar has won a Robert Rauschenberg "Artist As Activist" Fellowship


Maria Gaspar was named "Breakout Artist 2015: Chicago’s Next Generation of Image Makers" by Newcity Magazine. The article discussed her ongoing work in Chicago and a community incubator space she is developing. More info


Maria Gaspar was awarded a 2:2:2 Residency at Project Row Houses in Houston, TX as part of a collaboration with the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago. She will research and develop a series of audio works during the Fall of 2015.  Read more


Maria Gaspar was awarded an Experimental Sound Studio Artist Residency Award for Summer 2015. During this time, she will work with sound engineers to develop sonic landscapes for an upcoming exhibition about the Cook County Jail, Chicago.


Maria Gaspar will present her work as part of "Arts as a Force for Equity" and "Artists' Short Stalks" during the Americans for the Arts Conference in Chicago, June 2015. 

2015: The quagmire of mass incarceration is not limited to those held captive in the maze of the correctional system. Multimedia artist Sam Durant—whose work is influenced by American history, culture, and politics—and special guests Timothy Phillips (co-founder, Beyond Conflict), Maria Gaspar (founder and lead artist, 96 Acres), and filmmaker Darius Monroe come together for a conversation about the many new and innovative ways creative thinkers and leaders are challenging the public’s perception of mass incarceration and raising awareness about the ripple effect on society. Moderated by Pedro Alonzo, Open Source curator. More info

2015: This November, Maria Gaspar presents on her art practice and collaborative processes for the Artists + Engineers Symposium: The Role of Creativity in Developing the 21st Century Workforce at the Norris Conference Center through the Houston Arts Alliance in Houston, TX. More info

2015: Maria Gaspar received a Joan Mitchell Foundation Emerging Artist Award


Maria Gaspar was named Chicagoan of the Year in the Visual Arts by writer and art critic Lori Waxman for the Chicago Tribune. Ten artists were identified within the Chicago arts community who made significant contributions to our culture and lives during 2014. The article focused on Gaspar's creative work on Chicago's West Side, including 96 Acres (2012-present).