Efrén Candelaria (San Juan, PR, 1980)

Interdisciplinary artist and social entrepreneur. He graduated from the University of Miami (Florida) with a degree in Painting, Sculpture, and Art History. He has over twenty years of experience in the art industry as an installer, museum technician and consultant, as well as in teaching, in institutions such as The Art Institute of Chicago and School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Efrén has had a highly prolific artistic practice that led him to present his works (includingmultimedia installations, paintings and drawings) in the United States, Argentina, Puerto Rico, among others. In 2012, he decided to shift his studio practice to focus on socio economic and cultural development projects at a community centered level and founded, together with two childhood friends, the culinary-social project "Sobremesa Chicago'' in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. Sobremesa Chicago was known for its focus on locally-sourced ingredients, multimedia collaborations and the act of "breaking bread" as the ideal vehicle to represent the stories and culture of Latinos in the United States.

Candelaria recognizes himself as a social entrepreneur who seeks to unite culture and socio-economic development processes as the basis to establish solid cultural nuclei and identities that provide our communities with a source of pride and communal well-being. From 2015 to 2019, he worked at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as Assistant Director of facilities and professor in the Department of Continuing Studies. In 2019, he decided to resume his studio practice and established his painting atelier at Mana Contemporary in Chicago. More recently, in 2022, he re-established his studio practice in Brownsville, Texas, one of the southernmost cities in the contiguous US, where he is exploring the parallelisms in the lived experiences and cultural manifestations of colonialism related to living in the Border.