News Bites: MFA Student Helping Power Community Art Festival in Chicago
The EXPO Collective, a Chicago-based arts collective that includes KCAD MFA Painting student Ricardo Gonzalez, is launching the first ever Quetzal Arts Fest on Saturday, June 13 in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood.
Over the last several months, Gonzalez and fellow EXPO members Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez and Erik “Roho” Garcia have been gathering artists and sponsors from around Chicago to help make the event a celebration of both the wealth of artistic talent in the Pilsen neighborhood and the power of art to connect people and strengthen communities. In addition to the checking out the art that will be on display, festival goers will also have the opportunity to watch artists work live, participate in art workshops, enjoy a variety of on-site vendors, and network with one another. (See a full schedule of events here.)
There’s also a strong social activism component to the festival; many of the 16 participating artists will be showcasing large-scale pieces that will then be donated to a number of different area schools, churches, and other non-profit organizations in need of artistic stimulation for the people they serve.
“I think this festival will be a good culmination of what we’ve been working on because we’re bringing it out to the public instead of having it indoors,” Garcia said of EXPO’s efforts to expand beyond their already impressive résumé of smaller exhibitions. “It will be a nice way for us to put something out in public that’s available for free, and people can come meet each other and just enjoy the work.”
The Resurrection Project, a Pilsen-based organization that offers a range of programs and services to support and strengthen local communities, is the lead sponsor of the Quetzal Arts Fest. EXPO has also secured sponsorships with Capital One and its 360 Café, a unique space where visitors can get financial advice over a cup of coffee, as well as Vocalo Radio, D’Arcy Buick, and GMC Joliet. Rodriguez hopes to continue building these types of relationships moving forward, as they allow EXPO to put on amazing community events for free while still making sure the artists involved are fairly compensated.
“A lot of non-profit neighborhood groups have become aware of us or have already worked with some of us personally, so it’s just by extension where we can try to get other organizations to be a part of different events and projects,” he said. “The huge thing is that it’s all available for free.”