Sounds for Liberation

October 1—October 31, 2017


By: Maria Gaspar

This project was part of City-Wide Open Studios 2017

Location: Goffe St Armory & surrounding neighborhood

Sounds for Liberation is an audio project that examines issues of boundaries and divisions between the New Haven Correctional Facility, the New Haven Armory, and the neighborhood surrounding these two institutions. Audio recordings of song, personal narratives, storytelling, and the spoken word, collected from youth, community members, and the currently detained, are available to listen to in various locations around the neighborhood. By focusing on the voice, this project creates a common ground, connecting and building relationships at places of disconnection and isolation. No lines will be drawn, but rather, they will be erased.

Watch a video of Sounds For Liberation here.

In August 2017, along with Uzoma Orchingwa, a student at Yale Law School, artist Maria Gaspar worked with 10 detainees at New Haven Correctional Center on an expressive and therapeutic workshop focused on sound recordings posing the question “What does liberation sound like?” The group comprised of poets and musicians and were joined by NHCC staff. Their contributions, coming on the eve of their slated release dates, are filled with the same hopes and yearnings we all share for our families and futures, tinged with the anxieties of what is to come.  Also in August, Maria mobilized and trained a team of students to interview members of the community who live, work, study, or worship near NHCC.  The young people, along with Artspace mentors made their headquarters at the Stetson Library, and fanned out from there to record interviews and produce spoken word and musical segments.

Sounds For Liberation is a lyrical portrait of community members out of the spotlight but deserving of our attention, and is also a story of transformation through the platform of sound. Reporter Lucy Gellman was embedded with both groups, inside and out, and filed this wonderful report.


Sounds for Liberation CD


Purchase the CD featuring content from the broadcast of “Sounds for Liberation” during City-Wide Open Studios Alternative Space Weekend 2017 by artist Maria Gaspar.


About Maria Gaspar

Maria Gaspar is an interdisciplinary artist negotiating the politics of location through installation, sculpture, sound, and performance. Gaspar’s work addresses issues of spatial justice in order to amplify, mobilize, or divert structures of power through individual and collective gestures.  Sounds for Liberation, a recent work supported by Artspace, is emblematic of Gaspar’s practice that creates space for communities to organize and for new voices to be heard. Other work includes long-term public art interventions at the largest jail in the country (96 Acres Project, Chicago); re-articulations of museum archives (“Brown Brilliance Darkness Matter”); and audio-video work documenting a jail located in her childhood neighborhood (“On the Border of What is Formless and Monstrous”).

Gaspar has exhibited at venues including the MCA, Chicago, IL; Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, NY; African American Museum, Philadelphia, PA; amongst many others. Gaspar is the recipient of an Art Matters Grant, a Robert Rauschenberg Artist as Activist Fellowship, a Creative Capital Award, a Joan Mitchell Emerging Artist Grant, and a Sor Juana Women of Achievement Award in Art and Activism from the National Museum of Mexican Art. She was recently awarded the Chamberlain Award for Social Practice at the Headlands Center for the Arts and completed a residency at Project Row Houses in 2015. She is an Assistant Professor at 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.