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Maria Gaspar Artist Talk and Performance with Special Guest James Gordon Williams

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October 7 @ 4:00 pm 5:30 pm

In conjunction with Compositions, on view at the IAS, Maria Gaspar’s sculptural renderings of the jail’s fragments will be sonically and visually activated through performances over the course of the exhibition. These events will periodically make present the histories of people so often occluded by carceral structures and suggest new modes of transforming the wreckage of the present through art. 

Join us on October 7 for a talk in which Gaspar will present her artistic practice as well as a live performance from the acclaimed composer and theorist James Gordon Williams, assistant professor of music at UC Santa Cruz. Williams will perform an improvised musical piece using sculptures made from the fragments of the Cook County Jail. This sprawling space of imprisonment covers ninety-six acres on Chicago’s West Side and is one of the largest concentrations of incarcerated people in the country. Long a subject of Gaspar’s work, it was the site of a series of community-engaged art projects from 2012-2016. Learn more here.

About Maria Gaspar

Maria Gaspar is a Chicago-born interdisciplinary artist whose practice addresses issues of spatial justice to amplify, mediate, or divert structures of power through individual and collective gestures. Gaspar is the recipient of Guggenheim Fellowship for the Creative Arts, Latinx Artist Fellowship, United States Artists Fellowship, Frieze Impact Prize, Art Matters Award, Imagining Justice Art Grant, Robert Rauschenberg Artist as Activist Fellowship, Joan Mitchell Emerging Artist Grant, and Creative Capital Award. Gaspar has exhibited at venues including MoMA PS1, New York, NY; the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX; and the Abroms-Engle Institute for the Visual Arts, Birmingham, AL. She is an Associate Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, holds an MFA in Studio Arts from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY.

About James Gordon Williams

James Gordon Williams is a composer, pianist, improviser, and cultural theorist. He has worked with artists Crystal Z. Campbell, Cauleen Smith, Suné Woods, and poet and MacArthur Fellow Fred Moten. As pianist and improviser, he has performed with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Anthony Davis, bassist Mark Dresser, Miles Griffith and Gregory Porter, MacArthur Fellow George E. Lewis, Mark Dresser, Greg Osby, and the late Charli Persips’ Supersound band, as well as other music luminaries. He has played music in such storied venues as Birdland, Lenox Lounge, Symphony Space, Village Vanguard, and music festivals around the world. As a scholar, he writes on how African American composers and improvisers express political thought through creative practices that often connect to contemporary U.S. social movements. He is the author of Crossing Bar Lines: The Politics and Practices of Black Musical Space (2021). Williams is an Assistant Professor of Composition in African American/Global-African Traditions in the Department of Music at the University of California, Santa Cruz where he is also affiliate faculty in the Department of History of Consciousness and Visualizing Abolition Studies program.

We are pleased to be part of National Arts & Humanities Month in October.

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