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SPARK Grant

Recipients

Meet Grant Recipients
2021 - 2022
Dena Springer

Dena Springer is a bi-racial Asian-American animator & illustrator living in Chicago. Her work at once magnifies and reduces behaviors within groups, examining movements (both literal and figurative), and the divergent response to collective ideological structures between Eastern and Western perspectives. She uses vintage educational videos, antiquated instruction manuals, and old illustrations from children’s books to respond and challenge cultural definitions of role, gender, and identity. By borrowing from the rich animation tradition of the early 20th Century, she invites the viewer onto the drawing board with her in an effort to scramble the distance between who we are collectively, individually, and what culture dictates to us about both.  Her 2021 animated film, You Are Here, was screened at festivals such as GLAS Animation Festival, Ottawa International Animation Festival, & San Diego Underground Film Festival.

Image still: Scene from Boys Clap, Girls Dance. Digital Animation, 10 minutes. 2022.

2021 - 2022
Elsa Muñoz

Elsa Muñoz is a Mexican-American artist born and raised on the South Side of Chicago (1983). Muñoz credits her interest in both nature and healing to her experience growing up in an underserved and often unsafe community with little access to green spaces. Having to spend most of her childhood indoors led to the cultivation of a rich inner world in which she was able to find beauty and sanctuary. Muñoz writes, “Beyond any particular message in my work I'm always fundamentally seeking to call upon and transmute my earliest encounters with the natural world–imaginary encounters which filled me with wonder and longing.”

Image: Elsa Muñoz, World as Self (2021). Oil on panel. Dimensions 8" x8"

2021 - 2022
Lola Ayisha Ogbara

LOLA AYISHA OGBARA (cultural worker & artist) born and raised in Chicago, Illinois holds many  talents under her belt, i.e. sculpture, sound, design, photography and installation art. !My practice explores the multifaceted implications and ramifications of being in regards to the Black experience. I  work with clay as a material in order to emphasize a necessary fragility which symbolizes an essential  contradiction implicit in empowerments”. Ogbara holds a Bachelor of Arts in Arts Entertainment &  Media Management from Columbia College Chicago in 2013 and a MFA in Visual Arts from Washington  University Sam Fox School of Art & Design. 

In 2017, Ogbara co-founded Artists in the Room, a collective of artists and scholars who host artists,  emerging and established, in hopes of serving as a catalyst for artist development and networking. Ogbara  has also received numerous fellowships and awards, including the Multicultural Fellowship sponsored by  the NCECA 52nd Annual Conference, the Arts + Public Life and Center for the Study of Race, Politics &  Culture Residency at the University of Chicago, and the Coney Family Fund Award hosted by the  Chicago Artists Coalition. 

Ogbara has exhibited in art spaces across the country and is currently based in Chicago, Illinois.

Heashot photo: Adrian Octavius Walker

Image: Lola Ayisha Ogbara, Bubblegum, Bubblegum. 2021. Ceramic stoneware, acrylic varnish, nylon. 30” x 18” x 20”.

Lucia learned to sew from Abuelita and learned to call it Fiber Art from Academia. They were raised by South American immigrants in the deep American South.

Lucia Calderon Arrieta (she/they) is a fiber artist + anti-racist educator residing in the traditional unceded lands of the Potowatomi, Peoria, Miami, Ojibwe, and Oglala Sioux (So-called Chicago). They investigate boundaries of identity through depicting emotional blobs and using skin conditions like bruising and eczema as metaphors for trauma held in a racialized body. Their most recent body of work is inspired by undersea ecosystems that find balance though constant flux. Bruised soft sculptures become denizens of the deepest, most pressurized, darkest crevasses, yet find their way through alternate systems of nourishment and touch.

Calderon Arrieta holds an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art, a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a BFA from Birmingham-Southern College. They have worked as an educator in many capacities, including their current roles at The Art Institute of Chicago and Lillstreet Art Center. They previously held roles as part-time lecturer at Chicago State University, teaching artist at the Allied Media Conference, and facilitator for incarcerated artists with the Youth Arts Alliance!. Calderon Arrieta has shown work in venues including The Hyde Park Arts Center (Chicago, IL), Heaven Gallery (Chicago, IL), The South Haven Center for the Arts (South Haven, MI), Durbin Gallery (Birmingham, AL), Flophouse Gallery (Berkeley, MI), and SOFA 2014 (Chicago, IL).

Image: Lucia Calderon Arrieta, Inner Child (Metiviosa), 2021, Mixed media including organza, latex, felt, 45 x 20 x 11 inch. Photo credit: Dan Christian

Caption: A blobby, purple and pink soft sculpture oozes horizontally across a white expanse. On the right, a round, lumpy head/body is covered in pink and purple puckers. On the left, thick, gnarly, felted tentacles trail behind.

2021 - 2022
NAYEON YANG

Nayeon Yang is an interdisciplinary artist based in Chicago. She moved to the US from S. Korea in 2006. Experiencing the implied status of a 'foreigner' now in both countries, she explores the politics of 'foreign(ness)' and 'presence' as well as capital and labor in a global society through her projects.

Yang has exhibited at different venues including Chicago Artists Coalition, Roots and Culture, Co-Prosperity Sphere, Defibrillator Performance Art Gallery (Chicago), 849 Gallery at the Kentucky College of Art and Design (Louisville), Roy G. Biv Gallery (Columbus), PAB Open (Bergen), Latitude 53 (Edmonton), Rund Gallery (Seoul), Suchang Youth Mansion (Daegu), and Mythtake Museum (Cheongpyeong). She received an MFA in Sculpture from the Ohio State University and a BFA from School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is an alumna of residencies such as HATCH Residency at Chicago Artists Coalition, Wedge Projects, High Concept Labs, Birdsell Project, ACRE, Wassaic Project, and others.

Image: Tomorrow’s News (2022). Two-channel video with four see-through mirror panels. The history of the transfer of the rayon industry in East Asia (projection 1) and in Europe and North America (projection 2). Dimensions variable.

(Installation view at Chicago Artists Coalition)

A Night Visible to the Naked Eye Project website: Avisiblenight.com

Art as (not) Labor website: Artaslabor.com

2021 - 2022
Sofia Fernández Diaz

Sofía Fernández Díaz is a multidisciplinary artist  from Mexico City whose painting, fiber sculptures & installations seek to uncover the relationships between unrelated objects. Her intimate knowledge of both ancient & modern processes allows her to find commonalities between various materials (beeswax, fibers, natural dyes, glass, beads) through a combination of experimentation, intuition & play. Her familiarity with naturally occurring patterns & formations allows her to recreate these systems in her work, forming an immediate, visceral connection with her audience.

Image: Sofía Fernández Díaz, Install view, Amplificar los sentidos (2022). Wool, palm fiber, beeswax, glass, cochineal.

2021 - 2022
Yoonshin Park

Yoonshin Park is a Chicago based multimedia artist, curator, and educator working with sculptural papers, artist books, and installations. Her interest in the comprehensive process of papermaking and bookbinding caters her work to encompass various elements woven into complete objects. She often uses her experience as a foreign transplant to question space and its implications in defining one's identity as the inspiration behind her work.

She received her M.A. and M.F.A. in Interdisciplinary Book and Paper Arts from Columbia College Chicago. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and reviewed by TimeOut Chicago and Sculpture Magazine.

Park was born in Seoul, Korea, and currently resides in Chicago, IL.

Image: Yoonshin Park, Absent whispers, 2021, Handmade paper (hanji), ink, thread, fabric, 18 ½” (w) x 24” (h) x 2” (d) each (2 panels)

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