The metamorphosis of Gabriel Villa | 05/11/2021


Hyde Park Art Center, the famous non-profit contemporary art center located in Chicago’s vibrant South Side, presents The metamorphosis of Gabriel Villa and a related virtual artist conference. This major new solo exhibition showcases the Chicago artist’s new direction in clay installation and sculpture created during his 2018-19 Jackman Goldwasser residency at the Art Center, as well as a selection of his earlier paintings. Organized by Allison Peters Quinn, Hyde Park Art Center Director of exhibition and residency programs, the exhibition – which can be viewed in person – runs from April 26 – July 17, 2021.

Through an expansive studio and public art practice, Villa seeks to seamlessly translate the language of Mexican traditions and the personal and urban American experience into charged intimate narratives. A free virtual public program Presentation of the virtual artist Gabriel Villa will take place Thursday June 6, 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. via Zoom (, where Villa leads a virtual exhibition and conversation with a cultural promoter, transgender activist, writer and graphic designer, Franky Piña. Pre-registration is required on Eventbrite at

Sharing the roots of his new works, Villa said: “My recent series of intimate ceramic works and large-scale paintings is an extension of my studio and public practice of a decades-long career. I have been a designer for many years in Chicago, gradually building a personal visual language. This language, imbued with real and imaginary spaces, is far from being improvisation. Each work allows for mental meanders, presenting abstract elements arranged with representations of my own Mexican-American experience and direct observations of the interior and surroundings of Chicago’s Southside. This will be the first time that I will exhibit so many works at once in the city of Chicago. I’m glad it’s taking place at the Hyde Park Art Center. I identify with the south side of Chicago. It has been my home now for over 20 years. “

This exhibition is partially funded by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council.

Villa Gabriel, studio and public artist, was born and raised in El Paso, Texas / Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, border region, and currently resides in Chicago. He was a 2018-19 Jack Goldwasser Artist-in-Residence at the Hyde Park Art Center, and a recipient of the Elena Diaz-Verson Amos Eminent Scholar in Latin American Studies at Columbus State University, GA, 2017. He received his Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Delaware, a BFA from Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, ME, and the New York Academy of Art, NY. Villa served at the National Museum of Mexican Art, from 2006 to 2011 as co-curator of the Chicago Kraft Foods Gallery, and from 2005 to 2011 as director of Yollocalli Arts Reach, a youth initiative.

Franky Piña is a cultural promoter, transgender activist, writer and graphic designer. She was editor-in-chief of eight catalogs of Latin American artists in Chicago and co-founded several cultural and literary magazines past and present in Chicago, including Fe de erratas, zorros y erizos, Tropel and Contratiempo.

COVID-19 Security Protocols

Hyde Park Art Center considers the safety of its community to be the number one priority and uses city and state advice to inform its reopening procedures, including the requirement to wear masks in the building at all times; institute additional cleaning and disinfection procedures; wide availability of hand sanitizer throughout the building; and the careful configuration of exhibition hours so as to help regulate the number of people and maintain appropriate social distancing in the art center at the same time.

Admission and schedules

Entrance to the exhibition is free and prior registration is required. For the latest exhibition hours and advance registration, visit

About the Hyde Park Art Center

Hyde Park Art Center, at 5020 South Cornell Avenue on the bustling South Side of Chicago, is a contemporary arts hub in Chicago, serving as a gathering and production place for artists and the wider community to cultivate ideas, impact social change and connect networks. Since its inception in 1939, the Hyde Park Art Center has grown from a small collective of quirky artists to a strong legacy of innovative development and a unique Chicago art institution with social impact. The Art Center functions as an amplifier for the creative voices of today and tomorrow, providing the space to cultivate and create new works and new connections.

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