Grantee Cohort Spring 2018

Location Chicago, IL

Maria Gaspar is an artist based in Chicago, IL, with extensive experience working with incarcerated people to create works of art that reflects their stories. From 2012-2016, she led the 96 Acres Project, a series of community-engaged, site-responsive art projects that used theater, video, sound installation, and interdisciplinary processes to examine the impact of incarceration at the Cook County Jail on Chicago’s West Side, which is the nation’s largest single-site jail. Gaspar also leads an ongoing project, Radioactive: Stories from Beyond the Wall, which is a series of radio broadcasts and visual projections on Cook County Jail, to communicate the experiences of currently incarcerated people. She is a faculty member of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Gaspar is a native Chicagoan.

Through her Art for Justice grant, Gasper created a TV miniseries called Walls Turned Sideways are Bridges, produced and recorded inside Cook County Jail and staged inside a division where a former cell tier has been turned into a classroom. The story of the miniseries were sourced from two novels: Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo and Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison.