Chat Travieso

I create participatory and research-based art projects that seek to reinforce social bonds. My work exists between the intersection of art, architecture and urban design. Most of my art has taken the form of architectural public art projects and urban interventions that respond to people’s everyday needs in playful and unexpected ways. When audiences experience my work, I hope they feel welcomed to interact with it. This work is meant to be accessible, yet critical. A key consideration in my practice is creating work that is sensitive to its specific context. It isn’t about starting from scratch or grand gestures; it is about engaging people and building off what’s already there both physically and socially.

Over the course of design and fabrication, I work closely with local residents, businesses, community groups, and youth. My work is about centering the lives and experiences of communities that have been most marginalized. It considers ways cities can be more open and equitable specifically towards communities that have been systematically excluded from decision-making processes.

For me, community building begins before a project is conceived or designed and continues after a project is built and (in some cases) even de-installed. Community engagement is not one meeting or workshop, it is constantly engaging people in conversation, making oneself known, listening and observing on a regular basis, and through this process, building trust and solidarity with local residents, businesses and community groups. This grass roots approach signals to community members that the work is not a precious object placed there by a faceless entity; rather, it belongs to them and was created by them or people they know.

More recently I have expanded my practice to also include research-based projects that explore history, policy, and advocacy, with projects such as A Nation of Walls and Yes Loitering. I am at a critical juncture in my trajectory in which I am considering ways my work can have a larger systemic impact. With this new work, I am building on the foundation of social engagement undergirding all my work, while opening new avenues for poetic expression and political commitment through more conceptual and investigative projects. Concurrent to creating work that is tactical and hyper localized (as much of my previous projects were), I am interested in targeting the very root causes that sustain and reproduce injustices and push our capacity to imagine alternative futures.