WORKROOM 2024 Resident Artist Spotlight: Arturo Barrera


In this series we will feature resident artists in CAPE’s WORKROOM. This initiative sees the gallery space transformed into dedicated art studios for CAPE teaching artists. The WORKROOM program provides CAPE artists with a creative environment where they can explore new ideas, experiment with different techniques, and further develop their arts integration practices.

Arturo Barrera is an art educator in the Chicago Public School system, the third-largest school district in the United States. I served as an Assistant Principal for 4 years and have been teaching art education for over 32 years. He received a B.F.A. from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Art Education, a M.F.A. from Northern Illinois University in printmaking and painting and an M.A. in Education Administration from Governors State University. He creates and coordinates various mural projects that incorporate the talents of my students. He is a recipient of various grants, which benefit my students, the school, and various communities.

As a CAPE teacher, Arturo Barrera teaches at Pasteur Elementary School in the Artist/Researcher Partners program. 

Most recently, Arturo’s print works have been exhibited at the Cultural Institute of Mexico in Paris.

One of Arturo’s public sculptural works is on view all summer long on Halsted between Monroe and Madison in Greektown. Make sure to check it out!

The following interview was conducted by John Savastio, Sales and Production Supervisor, Peterson Picture Frame Company.

How has your art developed over the years?

I strive to improve my art teaching, which means being exposed to the latest techniques in various art media. I have learned over the years that new ideas and new experiences generate new teaching approaches in the classroom. The result is electric because our students have a venue for creative expression. 

How does your art connect with people?

In my classes, I incorporate the reading and viewing of many varied types of materials, enabling me to utilize meaning-making art skills that lead to summarizing, questioning, and interpreting the subject matter. 

Where do you get your inspiration?

I believe multiculturalism is a valuable component for students to embrace. I communicate with students the need to be aware of the benefits of and the highlights of the many cultures that are a part of today’s society. I teach students about how the fine arts can be integrated with the core curriculum of their understanding in all continual growth.

How would you introduce your art to people?

As an artist, I employ sharp, clean lines to produce a sense of tranquility and balance in my artwork. The lines, flowing from top to bottom, are motionless, but the addition of contrasting colors, within the canvas, produces tension.

People seek a spiritual, psychological, and mental escape when they visit either the church or cantinas. They start by sitting, and end up kneeling. They seek similar objectives, then get solace, enlightenment, and support at either location. The difference is one place supplies libations, and the other God.

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