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Maria Gaspar: Compositions

September 26, 2023 - March 2, 2024


Institute of the Arts and Sciences
100 Panetta Ave, Santa Cruz, CA
P (831) 502-7252


September 26, 2023 - March 2, 2024
12- 5 p.m. Tuesdays - Saturdays

Iron bars recast as glass with sonic reverberations. Concrete walls made porous by precisely cut holes. A building disappearing into clouds, piece by piece. And video footage and debris salvaged from the demolition of a wing of the Cook County Department of Corrections, the largest single-site jail in the United States, becomes the material with which to build a liberated world. In Compositions, Chicago-based artist Maria Gaspar’s first solo exhibition on the West Coast, artworks are acts of alchemy.

Compositions features newly commissioned and existing works from the award-winning artist. From public actions, sound broadcasts, sculptures, paintings, to videos, for more than a decade Gaspar has explored the role of art within the collective struggle against the United States carceral system.

The exhibition is organized as part of Visualizing Abolition, an arts-based initiative that reaches across prison borders to contribute to the unfolding collective story and alternative imagining underway to create a future free of prisons.

About Maria Gaspar (Tab to skip section.)
Maria Gaspar standing in their studio

About Maria Gaspar

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.

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Artist Talk and Musical Performance

Maria Gaspar, James Gordon Williams, Gina Dent, and Rachel Nelson

Maria Gaspar’s Artist Talk and James Gordon Williams’ Performance

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Audio Tour

Rachel Nelson

Maria Gaspar: Compositions Audio Tour, Duration: 12 minutes 35 seconds.

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Michael De Anda Muñiz

Maria Gaspar’s Abolitionist Dreams Permeate ‘Compositions’, The Latinx Project, March 1, 2024

John Malkin

Punching Out Prisons, Good Times, October 11 2023

John Malkin

We Lit the Fire and Trusted the Heat, Transformation Highway, KZSC, October 5 2023

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Online Resources

Daniel Quiles

Interview with Maria Gaspar, Artforum, September 11, 2018


Carceral Visuality Study Guide, Barring Freedom resources, 2020