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SPARK Grant

Recipients

Meet Grant Recipients
2019 - 2020
A.J. McClenon

Originally I was born and raised in “DC proper,” and now call Chicago my second home since 2012 where I hold a Masters of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I’ve received a Bachelor of Arts with a minor in creative writing from the University of Maryland, College Park and also studied at The New School. It has been a pleasure sharing work and performing in spaces like the Museum of Contemporary Art, LA Film Forum, Echo Park Film Center, Danspace Project, Woman Made Gallery, Roman Susan Gallery, Links Hall, the National Museum of African American History & Culture and Hyde Park Art Center. Alongside my artistic experiences I am passionate about teaching and community collaborations and I truly hope that all the memories and histories that are said to have “too many Black people,” are told and retold again.

 

Image: Work Caption: A.J. McClenon, Deep Surface: Salivary Gland and Cornrow Map Study from page 885

2019 - 2020
Aida Ramirez

Aida Ramirez is a mixed media who currently lives and works in Chicago, IL. She is currently completing her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Though she received her BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), in Printmaking with a concentration in Book Arts, her practice often shifts between printed media, performance, writing, and work-shoping. Much of Ramirez’s work is centered around ideas of collaboration, community, and the cultural identities within groups. Recently, Ramirez and her partner, Chas Druin, founded Fugitive Collective and have been producing, organizing, and writing inspired by concepts such as running away, survival, and sustainable communal living.

2019 - 2020
Allen Moore

Allen Moore is a Chicago based Educator, Curator, Painter, and Experimental Sound Artist. He was born and raised in Robbins Illinois. Allen holds a Masters in Art from Governors State University and a Masters of Fine Art from Northern Illinois University. His work converses with signifiers of Black culture and personal narrative; bringing to view the underlying themes of racial, emotional and socio-economical conditions.  

2019 - 2020
Carlos Flores

Carlos Flores (b. 1992 Guadalajara, Mexico) is a multidisciplinary artist and organizer working primarily in sculpture, collaborative installations, and community building. His work is informed by his experience as a queer Latinx immigrant on the West Side of Chicago and brings viewers face-to-face with issues of displacement, class, gender, and race. Currently he is focused on dismantling predatory practices by real estate investors targeting vulnerable populations in Little Village. He is also working on launching a startup that would be both a business and a critical artwork, to take on the growing problem of displacement.

In addition to this work, Carlos is the General Manager at Chicago Art Department (CAD), a nonprofit community art center in Pilsen offering residencies for twenty artists and over a hundred free programs to the community per year. He is committed to cultivating socially minded artists.

2019 - 2020
David Richards

David Richards was born in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1952 and currently lives and works in Chicago, IL. He is a visual artist, writer and educator.

He taught classes in Drawing, 3D Design and a Research Studio at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago starting in 1982 until his retirement in 2010 as an Adjunct Associate Professor. He was also an Academic Advisor, an Admissions Counselor and 3D Coordinator for the First Year Program.

His work has been shown at: The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; The Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL; The Illinois State Museum, Springfield, IL; The International Museum of Surgical Science, Chicago, IL; The Kaoshiung Museum of Fine Arts, Kaoshiung, Taiwan, ROC; Phyllis Kind Gallery, Chicago, IL; Compass Rose Gallery, Chicago, IL and many other venues.

He has work in the permanent collections of: The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; The DePaul Art Museum, Chicago, IL; The Logan Square Public Library, Chicago, IL; The First National Bank, Chicago, IL; The American Medical Association, Chicago, IL and Access Living, Chicago, IL as well as a number of private collections. He has received the Illinois Arts Council Individual Artist Grant, The 3Arts Make a Wave Grant, a City of Chicago Percent for the Arts Program purchase award for the Logan Square Public Library, and the Anna Louise Raymond Fellowship.

Image: David Richards "Angry Pupa" (2018). Mixed media. Dimensions 12 x 23 x 3.5 inches.

2019 - 2020
Dominique James

In an interview with Bomb Magazine filmmaker and multimedia artist Cauleen Smith probed: "…[We] only reenact traumas, don’t we? We don’t reenact prom night, or our favorite birthday party. This is a problem—it doesn’t seem to fix things; it amplifies them. There’s gotta be something else, the after-the-trauma." I agree that there must be something else, but I also believe that a thorough address of trauma requires both “the after” and the trauma itself. Accordingly, I am specifically invested in investigating trauma *without* re-traumatization and cultivating and celebrating “the after-the-trauma.” This investigation primarily manifests through paired interview and portrait series around themes of identity, beauty, intimacy, and selfhood. I believe deeply in the power of collective curiosity and public sharing. My teaching artist practice has affirmed that we both have and are the answers to our most urgent questions.

Image: Dominique James "demetrius and frsh edit" Demetrius and Frsh (35 mm film, 2019)

2019 - 2020
eliza myrie

Myrie received her MFA from Northwestern University and was a participant at The Skowhegan School and The Whitney Independent Study Program. Myrie has been in residence at Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Arts + Public Life at The University of Chicago, Yaddo, SFAI, and The MacDowell Colony. Myrie is a lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is a co-founder of The Black Artists Retreat [B.A.R.]. Her work has been supported by The Propeller Fund and 3Arts Chicago. Exhibitions include Arts Club Chicago; Gallery 400; Vox Populi; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; New Museum of Contemporary Art. Myrie’s work explores site and labor through generational inheritance, gender, and authorship. As a sculptor and printmaker, dimension, volume, and examination of how representation and subjectivity are lost/gained via physical and conceptual processes are central to her work.

Image:

eliza myrie "ring" is the first in a series of three performative sculptures that explore support structures and the interplay of the dominant and subordinate roles of objects and their function.

2019 - 2020
Gabriel Moreno

Gabriel Moreno is an American artist whose work spans sculpture, performance, and image-making. He relies on the immediacy of objects to explore notions of distance and the tensions tethering individuality with collectivity. His process is defined by responding to site, history, labor, and materiality as a method of perceiving their hybrid play across time.

Moreno graduated from Knox College (BA 2014) and The University of Chicago (MFA 2016).

Image: An Incidental Machine (Broken Mirror). Photo credit: Javier Bosque, Produce Model Gallery

2019 - 2020
Ireashia M. Bennett

Ireashia M. Bennett is a Black queer new media artist from Suitland, MD and currently based in Chicago, IL. They produce multimedia essays, short documentaries, and experimental films that center and prioritize Black queer disabled perspectives and realities. They believe the camera captures the connection between how a person exists and how their spirit impresses onto others. They seek to bring a compassionate perspective to how they explore ways to communicate complex social issues into accessible formats through media and storytelling. They hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from Columbia College Chicago. Their work has been exhibited locally in Chicago at art spaces such as the Sullivan Galleries, the Arts Incubator, Stony Island Arts Bank and the Chicago Art Department as well as nationally at the Museum of African American History in Boston, MA.

Ireashia M. Bennett "Self-Portrait, Unruly Bodies, Divergent Minds" (2020).

2019 - 2020
Jennifer Ligaya

Jennifer Ligaya is a sound and performance composer born and raised in Chicago with an interdisciplinary background in visual art, vocal performance, dance, and theater. A graduate of the Interdisciplinary Art program at Columbia College Chicago, her work includes original sound and performance compositions and collaborations through a multitude of arts organizations including the Chicago Home Theater Festival, Honey Pot Performance, Links Hall, International Puppet Theater Festival, the Old Town School of Folk Music, Arts and Public Life, and the Performance Studies Department at Northwestern University. A High Concept Laboratories Sponsored Artist alum, her current compositions are constructed to elevate key questions and highlight critical conversations around race/cultural identity, indigeneity, decolonization, activism, and healing, through the weaving of traditional and contemporary sound, performance, and personal ancestral folk arts practices. Timothy Jones is a skilled musician who will be the collaborating artist working with Jennifer Ligaya in creating this new work supported by the SPARK Grant. He is a trained guitarist, composer, sound designer and agriculturalist out of the Chicago, IL metropolitan area. Over the past two decades Timothy has participated in countless projects and recordings with a large array of local artists in Chicago today. Most notable to date are the collection of albums of original compositions with his group Magic Carpet, including the Bassment Sessions and Live at the Promontory. Timothy continues to work in music composition and is a treasure for all who hear and benefit from his work.

Performance image from #theligayaprojects

2019 - 2020
José Santiago Pérez

José Santiago Pérez is a Salvadoran-American artist from Los Angeles currently based in Chicago. He weaves disposable plastics into markers of time and materials of intimacy and is currently a 2019-2020 HATCH artist resident at the Chicago Artists Coalition.

His 2020 solo show at Roman Susan Art Foundation was reviewed in Artforum. Solo exhibitions of his craft based sculptures and wall hangings have been presented at Ignition Project Space and Wedge Projects, and his curatorial projects have been exhibited at the Leather Archive & Museum. José has participated in group shows in San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Boston. Reviews and interviews about his work have been featured in OthePeoplesPixels, Archives + Futures Podcast, Sixty, Newcity, and Art Intercepts.

José has an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where he teaches in the Fiber and Material Studies department.

Image: José Santiago Pérez "Palacio, 12" (2020), coiled plastic, 3 1/2 x 7 1/2 x 61 inches.

2019 - 2020
Juan Arango Palacios

As a queer artist that was raised in a post-colonial context in Colombia, Juan Arango Palacio's identity was shaped in the shadows of North American normativity. Juan's sense of self was further confounded by a series of migrations that their family experienced in search of work and a more prosperous future. Moving through varying homophobic and misogynistic cultures in Louisiana and Texas, they have formed a disembodied identity that is not attached to any specific homeland and has always been challenged by the general norm. Juan holds a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is a Chicago-based artist making work that addresses the culture of members of the queer and Latinx diaspora communities in the United States.

Image: Juan Arango Palacios "Night Kiss" (2019), Double-cloth dyed cotton, 16 x 60 inches.

Juan Molina Hernández, born in Guanajuato, México, is a Chicago-based visual artist. Molina Hernández's art practice primarily uses photography and more recently writing, video, and artist books to create narratives that address the complexities of the hybrid immigrant identity. By appropriating symbols from the environment, culture, and personal memory they construct stories in relation to place, family, and a culture that never speaks one language.

Molina Hernández graduated from Northern Illinois University in 2016 with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in photography. In the past, they have exhibited at ACRE Projects, Aurora Public Art Commission, Evanston Art Center, Elmhurst Art Museum, Gallery 214, Jack Olson Gallery, North Branch Arts Center, Roman Susan, as well as White Ripple Gallery & Co. 

 

Image: Juan Molina Hernández, autoretrato o piel vieja y lo que sobra de una manda cumplida (self-portrait or old skin and remnants of a prayer answered), archival inkjet print, dimensions vary, 2017

2019 - 2020
Juarez Hawkins

Juarez Hawkins is an artist, educator and curator. She received a B.A. from Northwestern University, and her M.A. in Interdisciplinary Arts from Columbia College Chicago. Juarez has exhibited widely, hosting solo exhibitions at Concordia University, the 33 Collective Gallery, and the South Side Community Art Center. As Co-Curator of Gallery Programs at Chicago State University, she has organized exhibitions from the permanent collection, as well as student work and established artists, including Richard Hunt and Marva Jolly. Recent curatorial projects include Black Clay and Shirley Hudson: VisionQuest at Chicago State; The Love Affair Continues at the DuSable Museum; Intersectional Touch and Bill Walker: Urban Griot at the Hyde Park Art Center. Juarez is a member of Sapphire and Crystals, a collective of African American female artists.

2019 - 2020
Ladipo Famodu

Ladipo Famodu is a researcher, artist, and futurist based in Chicago. He embraces opportunities for experimental, collaborative learning and believes in the power of imagination. He is the founder of Astro Afro Studio, a developing practice which seeks to address the present and future threats to social equality and environmental sustainability by weaponizing art, design, and technology in a creative, subversive manner. There are several organizations to which he credits his interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving and problem-finding. Some include SpeculativeEdu, Hackers & Designers, and the School for Poetic Computation. His artwork has been shown at MSI Black Creativity and at the South Side Community Art Center.

Lional Brother El Freeman is a spontaneous composer, multidisciplinary creative, and educator who uses music and visual arts to express ideas while connecting people to a higher plane of consciousness. Raised in the hip hop aesthetic and DIY movement, he constantly looks to push the boundaries of music as an expert in the Live PA field. Formally trained as an Audio Engineer and Graphic Designer, he has acquired many different skills running The Beat Bank, an independent record label. His sets often include using sequencers, synthesizers, drum machines, and samplers to create fully improvised and live beat-making. His unique style has been described as Chicago’s pulse, the breath of hip hop, the heartbeat of club respiration, and the clashing fusion of South Side meeting ancestral roots.

In addition to his Live PA performances, Brother El has multiple forays and partnerships within the Chicago music scene. Along with his solo performances, he also is a member of three groups: The electronic experimental duo “Makers Of Sense”, “The Present Elders” who came to prominence with a series of pop up shows held in culturally significant areas of Chicago and most recently, “Englewood Soweto Exchange” a Jazz and Hip Hop international collective of South African and Chicago musicians led by Maestro Ernest Dawkins.

Furthermore, Brother El has worked with many institutions including The University of ChicagoOld Town School of Folk MusicThe Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special EventsThe Oakland Museum of Contemporary ArtKnobconLoyola UniversityChicago Public SchoolsChicago Park DistrictUrban Gateways and Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education.

As an educator, Brother El has developed outreach methods that teach multiple subjects to youth audiences centered around electronic music, science, and wellness. Students gain not only musical knowledge and abilities, they learn firsthand the importance of working together as a team, self-discipline, personal responsibility, confidence, and the value of commitment. One of his ultimate goals is to unlock potential greatness within youth and artist communities in Chicago by empowering them with alternative thinking. 

 

Image of performance Sonic Abstractions II 

Lional "Brother El" Freeman performs a series of four Live PA electronic compositions commissioned in conjunction with the Smart Museum of Art's exhibition 'Solidary & Solitary.'

Performed in the galleries, each installment is designed for a different section of the exhibition and explores the relationship between abstraction and blackness reflecting on questions of distance and anonymity, chance, blurring and erasure, and invisibility.

Brother El will incorporate a series of synthesizers, samplers, sequencers, and fx as part of the works.

2019 - 2020
Malika Jackson

My practice is heavily influenced by who I am as a female artist, mother, and teacher. My work bridges various aspects from figurative to abstraction, using clay and wood to create three-dimensional work to paintings. African influences, as well as other cultural ones, appear in my work similar motifs and iconography. Colorful wood works, while joyous, also energetically portray deeper meanings of soulfulness. My work is a social practice that predominately conveys stories of females in honest self-discovery.

2019 - 2020

Marvin Young is a self-taught artist and a lifelong resident of Chicago’s South Side. With almost no connection to the art market or broader art community, Marvin has been dedicated to art-making since he was a child. He observes his world intensely and draws constantly as an expression and record of people and places in his community as he’s experienced them over the decades. These portraits and various city scenes, both imagined and remembered, capture his hometown in a singular voice. Quite prolific, Marvin often produces several small scale drawings a day. He draws quick, yet detailed representations of figures and urban architecture, his subjects ranging from female police officers to taxis to the public housing project he lived in on Cottage Grove.

2019 - 2020
Monica Trinidad

Monica Trinidad is a queer Latinx artist and cultural organizer born, raised, and residing in Chicago, Illinois. Over the past several years, Monica has created graphics, posters, and illustrations documenting struggles for racial justice in Chicago, emphasizing art and cultural work as integral in campaigns and community efforts. She is a co-founder of Brown and Proud Press (2011) and For the People Artists Collective (2015), in addition to co-host on the Lit Review podcast. Monica holds a Bachelors Degree in Gender and Women’s Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she was awarded the Civic Engagement, Community Service, and Community Organizing (CESCO) award in 2016. Her work has been exhibited at the National Museum of Mexican Art, Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, DuSable Museum of African American History, Hairpin Arts Center, Roman Susan Gallery, and Art In These Times.

 

Image: Monica Trinidad, "The Universe is on Our Side", 2020, illustration.

2019 - 2020
Peregrine Bermas

Peregrine Bermas is a queer islander, survivor and folk artist creating in occupied Chicago. Their creative practice interweaves curiosity for physiology, natural medicine, meditation and liminal space. They are a certified yoga instructor and reiki master in the usui shiki ryoho lineage. Their transdisciplinary work centers youth, folks living outside of the binary, people of color and survivors of sexual violence.

They are currently a teaching artist with Young Cultural Stewards and ProjectArt, Healer-in-Residence with Axis Lab Chicago and 1/4 of I Live in a House with a Door.

Image: Peregrine Bermas "born into belonging" (2019)

2019 - 2020

Roderick Sawyer is a Southside-based creative that explores the importance of language and storytelling through his art practices. On one hand, Sawyer's work involves creating video documentaries, photography publications, and editorial articles that analyze Graffiti as a complex system of communication, self-expression, and resistance. On the other hand, Sawyer focuses on creating photo-books that represent his exploration of language acquisition, dialect, and identity through the study of languages like Spanish. Sawyer ultimately seeks to explore how we view ourselves through our complex language systems, and how these systems frame our perspectives of the world and of others around us.

Sawyer completed his Bachelor of Arts in Visual and Critical Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2018. Since graduating, Sawyer has been an international resident of an independent photography residency with the Arquetopia Foundation in México and a Field/Work resident with Chicago Artist Coalition.

2019 - 2020
Stephanie Graham

Stephanie Graham is an interdisciplinary artist living and working in Chicago. Her work draws on her fascination with subcultures, social class, relationships, and, of course, being black. She holds a BA in Cinematography and Photography from Columbia College Chicago. Stephanie has a love for 90 Day Fiance, the Real Housewives, and memes. 

Image: Stephanie Graham, Love You Bro, #5

Artist Photo: Dorey Kronick

2019 - 2020
Vicente Ugartechea

Vicente Ugartechea is a trans, first generation Mexican-American artist and educator. Drawing from personal narrative, they explore landscapes of constructed normativities, ethnocentrism, and privilege as a way of defining and redefining issues that subsist within marginalized identities. Currently, they interested in radical forms of education, assembly, resistance, and the formulation/manifestation of queer archives. 

2019 - 2020
Yesenia Bello

Yesenia Bello lives and works in Chicago. Her work reflects on lived experiences as a first-generation Mexican-American and especially responds to the loss and regain of her first language over time. Her installations, drawings, and sculptures have been presented at spaces including The Chicago Cultural Center, Tiger Strikes Asteroid (Chicago and LA), Goldfinch Gallery (Chicago, IL), Super Dutchess Gallery (New York, NY), The Overlook Place (Chicago, IL), Comfort Station (Chicago, IL), 6018 North (Chicago, IL), and Hyde Park Art Center (Chicago,IL). She was part of the HATCH Projects 2016-2017 group at Chicago Artists Coalition and recently completed the 2018-2019 Center Program at the Hyde Park Art Center. Residencies include ACRE, Oxbow, and Carrizozo AiR. She received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a focus in Fiber and Material Studies.

 

Image caption: Held in Potential Disuse. 2019. mixed media installation (image credit: Alex Younger) 

2019 - 2020
Zachary Nicol

Zachary Nicol constructs texts across media that address scrutiny, identification, illegibility, and presentation. Nicol’s performance, writing, video, and print work has been presented in Chicago, Portland, Toronto, and online. Nicol is a 2020 Artist-in-Residence at Annas Projects, and has participated in residencies at ACRE and Links Hall. They work frequently as a collaborative and performing artist in dance, theatre, and film. Their recent contributions include projects with Mlondi Zondi, Aram Atamian, Kim Brandt, Alexandra Pirici, Jonas Becker, Ginger Krebs, Elise Cowin, Catherine Sullivan, and Anna Martine Whitehead, among others. Nicol lives and works in Chicago.

Zachary Nicol “Fragment 3.1.1" (from “III") (2018). 

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