Congratulations to Selva Aparicio and Silvia González, winners of the MAKERS grants

MAKER Grants, funded by Chicago Artists Coalition and OtherPeoplesPixels, are an annual, unrestricted award opportunity for Chicago-based visual artists. MAKER Grants recognize that Chicago is home to a unique and thriving ecology of engaged and socially-conscious makers, who often work outside of traditional forms or without commercial support. MAKER Grants, therefore, endeavor to honor these artists whose work actively engages with social issues—with an eye towards using the strategies, beauty, and meaning of art-making for positive change.

Congratulations to the 2020 recipients, Silvia González and Selva Aparicio. Both artists were asked to tell us a little about their practices and how they plan to use the award money.

Silvia González

Butterfly Suitcase Collage, 2020.

My work has multiple layers to it. I am an artist and educator in Chicago Public Schools, and I often find my practices directly or indirectly aligning whether it is through praxis or the process of reflecting on the projects I develop. My personal work tends to take the form of installation, and I use screen printing, sound, collage, and drawing to create work relating my experiences at the intersection of myth and memory. As a collaborator on multiple projects and with other artists, I have also learned the importance of collective imagination and care. I am currently a member of the Chicago Act Collective, and this has really grown my belief in the importance of forming interconnected collectives rooted in deep connection, tenderness, care, and a desire to positively impact community.

Compass To Now | Here, 2020. Interactive Installation.

My most recent work is with 6018 North at the Chicago Cultural Center for the group show called In Flux--Artists and Immigration. I invited artists Patricia Nguyen and Joseph Josue Mora in creating a series of artists book documenting the history of settlement, resettlement, unsettlement and national immigration policy in context with local organizing and grassroots efforts. I created an interactive installation piece that prompted visitors to become participants in archiving their own narratives and experiences with Chicago, community, and their own neighborhoods. 

Tierra | Madre | Mother | Ship, 2018. Collage, Sculpture, Installation, Flowers, Print.

The Maker Grant that I've received is testament of the support Chicago continues to give their artists. It is through the Maker Grant support that I am reminded my work is seen and upheld by a creative advocates and celebrated among like-hearted community members. I am grateful for the consistency of this support and can only imagine continuing to grow it forward the best way I can. The first thing I did when I was able to go public with the award was to buy raffle tickets to support undocumented families during this time via the organizing of community member Victor Arroyo by way of La Carnalita. I was also able to buy some needed resources to continue my remote learning curriculum planning as well as personal art projects. I am using a portion of the funds to continue supporting the POC Artist Space virtually. POC Artist Space is an online Facebook resource page where Chicago artists of color can network, connect, share resources, and digital space. It has also served as a critique and salon space where artists can get feedback on works in progress or propose salon sessions for professional, educational, and artistic development. It is a project I started in 2016 that has since grown to over 800 members. Last but not least, I am giving the remaining portion to my family—my mom and sister—to use as needed. 

Silvia's website |  @silvia.ines.gonzalez

Selva Aparicio

Entre Nosotros (Among Us), 2020. Concrete tiles cast from human dead Donors. Dimensions variable. Photo credit: Robert Chase Heishman

I scavenge for nature's discarded flora and fauna and create sculptural installations with them as an act of tribute. Among these materials are human cadaversinsect wings and body partsoyster shellsfallen leavesolive pits and more. I’ve always explored themes around death, transitioning, fragility and the passage of time - themes that will be increasingly common with climate change, overpopulation and extinction. I’ve been especially interested in ethical issues around managing human bodies in the medical field, burial practices and surgical procedures.

Velo de luto (Mourning veil), 2020. Magicicada wings, sewn with hair. Photo credit: Robert Chase Heishman

Given the specific nature of my work, in both it’s time-consuming process and scale, and then the overall fragility of each piece I make, requires that I rely on grants like this to continue sharing my artwork at all. All of the materials I use in my work have been and will always be ethically sourced by my own hand - I carefully scan my environments to choose or incept each new project. For instance, for one of my last pieces Velo de Luto, I had to drive to Kansas from Chicago to collect the wings from the 17 year cicadas that swarmed in that year. I waited for them to die, just as I wait for all of my materials to be discarded or dead before I use them. 

Entre Nosotros (Among Us), 2020. Concrete tiles cast from human dead Donors. Detail. Photo credit: Robert Chase Heishman

Part of the grant will go towards the making of Impresiones de Ausencia (Impressions of Absence), a large memorial to honor all of the individuals that donated their bodies to education and research. Receiving this grant is instrumental to having the resources I need to produce the piece. I feel strongly that these individuals must receive recognition for offering the most generous gift a human has to offer - their body.

The 2014 Maker Grant Recipients

Chicago Artists' Coalition and OtherPeoplesPixels are proud to announce the recipients of the 2014 Maker Grant, an award opportunity for two Chicago-based contemporary visual artists who demonstrate a commitment to a sustainable artistic practice and career development. 

Thank you to the 2014 Jury
Greg Lunceford, curator of exhibitions, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events
Cesáreo Moreno, chief curator, National Museum of Mexican Art
Lori Waxman, Chicago-based critic and art historian.

This grant is funded in part by a portion of proceeds from Chicago Artists Coalition’s annual Starving Artist fundraiser and a matching contribution from OtherPeoplesPixels.

The Beast at Hyde Park Art Center

This year’s $3000 award was granted to John Preus, a Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist. Preus holds an MFA from the University of Chicago (2005), and studied furniture-making in Minnesota (1996-99) with celebrated furniture-maker John Nesset. He founded Dilettante Studios (2010), co-founded SHoP (2011), and Material Exchange (2005). Preus was the creative director of the Rebuild Foundation shop until 2012, and project lead for Theaster Gates' 12 Ballads for Huguenot House, at Documenta 13. Preus is currently the Jackman-Goldwasser resident at the Hyde Park Art Center, with a current solo exhibition, The Beast, now on view through August 3.

Sound Installation Proposal for Making the Unknown, Known #1 (Site-Specific projects for Little Village, Chicago)
Digital Rendering

This year’s $1000 award was granted to Maria Gaspar, who is engaged in transdisciplinary practices that individually or collectively mediate or occupy different sites to create ephemeral and permanent scenarios. Gaspar has presented work at the MCA Chicago, The Jane Addams Hull House Museum, the National Museum of Mexican Art, the Chicago Cultural Center, and the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art. Her performance work includes presentations at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson with La Pocha Nostra, the Athenaeum Theater in Chicago, and the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center in San Antonio, TX. She is currently leading a series of long-term site-responsive projects, 96 ACRES, about the Cook County jail, the largest structure in her native community of Little Village. Gaspar is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the departments of Performance Art and Contemporary Practices at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Congratulations, John and Maria!

(Reposted from our partner on MAKER grant, Chicago Artists' Coalition)

Calling All Chicagoland Artists: The MAKER Grant is Back!

Deadline March 15, 2014

The MAKER Grant is an annual award opportunity for Chicago-based contemporary visual artists who demonstrate a commitment to a sustainable artistic practice and career development. MAKER Grant’s unrestricted $3000 and $1000 annual grants are intended to recognize two exceptional artists and support the advancement of their artistic careers.

This grant is funded in part by a portion of proceeds from the Chicago Artists Coalition’s annual Starving Artist fundraiser and a matching contribution from OtherPeoplesPixels. MAKER Grant recognizes both the CAC’s and OPP’s mutual commitments to supporting local artists’ practices and professional development.

Mirror Selves
Mary Patten, 2013 Winner


In addition to financial support, MAKER Grant awardees receive:
  • Published interviews and promotion through CAC and OPP communications, including a feature on CAR-Chicago Artists Resource & the OPP blog
  • A one-year CAC artist membership
  • 'Lifetime' access to OPP's exceptional portfolio services
  • Two tickets to attend CAC’s Starving Artist fundraiser on June 21, 2014 (winners will be recognized at the event)


Applicants must be at least 21 years old, a U.S. citizen or legal resident, as well as a resident of the Chicagoland region (within a 30-mile radius of Chicago). Applicants may not be currently enrolled in a degree-granting program or its equivalent, nor may they apply as a collaborator on more than one proposed project.


  • Artists who can show that they are at a defining moment to achieve growth in their creative and professional careers
  • Artists who demonstrate a strong and active engagement with and professional commitment to their artistic practice
  • Artists whose work as cultural makers impacts the development of art and culture in a meaningful way
White Guilt
David Leggett, 2013 Runner-up


    Submissions are evaluated by a jury of professional peers from leading cultural institutions in Chicago, as well as representatives from Chicago Artists Coalition and OtherPeoplePixels. The 2014 jury is:

    • Greg Lunceford, curator of exhibitions, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events
    • Cesáreo Moreno, chief curator, National Museum of Mexican Art
    • Lori Waxman, Chicago-based critic and art historian


    • Complete the online application form
    • Upload your Resume
    • Provide 10 Work Samples
    • Pay non-refundable, $15 application fee

    Click here to apply for the Maker Grant.

    For questions, please contact Cortney Lederer (Director of Exhibitions and Residencies, Chicago Artists' Coalition) at 312.491.8888.

    OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Maker Grant Runner-Up David Leggett

    OtherPeoplesPixels would like to congratulate the winners of the inaugural 2013 Maker Grant: Mary Patten, the winner of 2013's Maker Grant, and David Leggett, the Maker Grant Runner-Up. The Maker Grant is a partnership between OPP and Chicago Artists' Coalition to bring an unrestricted funding opportunity to contemporary Chicago-based artists. We'd like to thank our hundreds of applicants and specially congratulate our 25 finalists. The strength of your applications made the jury's decision very difficult, and we look forward to seeing many of you apply again next year.

    The Winners were chosen by our outstanding jury:
    Candida Alvarez, artist and professor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
    Michael Darling, James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art
    Claire Pentecost, artist and participant in dOCUMENTA (13), professor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

    In case you missed the full announcement, you can read more here.
    Since David also happens to be an OPP artist, we wanted to follow up on our interview in April 2012 in order to see what he's been working on in the studio lately...

    White Guilt
    Collage and acrylic on paper mounted on canvas

    OtherPeoplesPixels: Congratulations on winning the Maker Grant runner-up prize! How will you use the money?

    David Leggett: I will be using part of the money for an airbrush kit and art supplies. I've always wanted to try air brushing since I was a kid. I just never got around to it until now. I’m not sure how that will affect my work.

    OPP: Has anything changed in your practice since our interview last year?

    DL: I like to think I’m always changing with my work. As I get older, I pick up new techniques and approaches and drop the ones that no longer work. That’s not to say I never go back to old ideas and techniques from time to time. Lately, I have been using more collage elements like clay and found images. It’s a challenge to make them work in a composition, and these things have a history to them before I apply them in my work. I’ve had some images for years and have only recently found places for them to go. I have also been using spray paint and a paint marker a lot lately. I like the aesthetic look of them both. I know it is very popular to use these materials now, but they are new to me.

    Let that boy cook
    Collage and acrylic on panel

    OPP: Any favorite pieces from 2013?

    DL: Let that boy cook and Chiraq are two pieces that I really enjoyed making. Both of these paintings include found images that I’ve had in my studio for years.

    OPP: You recently exhibited work in a group show called (I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man at Tracey Williams, LTD in New York. Your work was viewed alongside that of three other Chicago-based artists: Trew Schriefer, Tim Nickodemus, and Rachel Niffenegger. According to the press release for the show, "The influence of Chicago is most evident in work by David Leggett, who reflects the city's popular culture while registering the influence of the Chicago Imagists." How do you think of the designation of being a "Chicago artist?" Would your work be different if you lived somewhere else?

    DL: I’ve never really thought of myself as a “Chicago artist,” but I admire a lot of the Chicago Imagists. They have been a great influence on me, but so have many other artists, writers, comedians . . . the list goes on. My work reflects the environment that I’m in. I’m sure if I lived in a small, rural town my work would be influenced by that. I might be a great landscape artist and not know it.

    But I always have a strategy for shows. When I learned the title and the other artists that would be in the show, I knew what approach I wanted to take. I wanted to display more of my Chicago roots for that show. I stuck with themes and subjects that reflected both good and bad aspects of Chicago that I often think about. I wanted to poke fun at what cities like New York may think about Chicago. This is in contrast to a group show called Squirts that I was in a week later at Regina Rex in New York. The work for that show was more focused on humor and popular culture outside of Chicago.

    from Coco River Fudge Street
    Blog drawing

    OPP: When I interviewed you last year, you said you probably wouldn't keep up your daily drawing blog, Coco River Fudge Street, after the related exhibition at Hyde Park Art Center. But I see drawing through the end of March 2013. Are you still making a daily drawing? Why did you decide to keep going after all? Have the drawings since the exhibition changed in any substantial way?

    DL: I stopped for a time. But I was compelled to start up again in July until the end of August 2012 after a bizarre review of my blog drawings was brought to my attention. I went back to Coco River Street with more focus than I had when the project officially ended months before. The new drawings were a response to that review, but I also missed the daily activity of drawing. I use a lot of pop cultural references in the blog drawings, and since I had stopped, a lot had happened in the news and a lot of things were on my mind. I started it up for another two months while I was working on the New York shows earlier this year. It helped with the nervous energy I feel when I make paintings, and I included drawings from the blog in both shows. I know I’ll never do another full year of daily drawings, but it is fun to come back from time to time.

    To see more of David's work, please visit