Each year, the Chicago Tribune announces the Chicagoans of the Year in Arts and Entertainment. This year, the person of the year for art is SAIC’s very own, Maria Gaspar. A professor of Contemporary Practices, Gaspar also coordinates initiatives in the La Villita (or Little Village) neighborhood, heavily populated with Mexican-Americans, and the area she called home as a child.
The series of initiatives is part of 96 Acres, a program she founded with the backing of Enlace Chicago. This project has been instrumental to bringing art to the West Side and involving the youth in the area to educate and produce socially conscious art. The project’s scope has ranged from public art, to large scale demonstrations, to graphic novels. In her private art practice as well, Gaspar deals with race and cultural relations. Her work will soon be at the Riverside Arts Center and the residency program held at Project Row Houses in Houston’s Third Ward.