About & Artist Statement


Carlos Flores es un artista plástico, organizador de artes comunitarias radicales, curador de arte y cultivador de flores. Tanto su práctica visual como su trabajo organizativo se centran en la creación de espacios para crear conexión, regeneración y ejercer cuidado mutuo. Como gerente de programas en Chicago Art Department, dirige las residencias y exhibiciones de la organización, apoyando a veinte artistas cívicos y más de 100 exhibiciones y programas gratuitos cada año. Carlos también es el fundador de Contra Corriente, un festival anual que destaca el trabajo de artistas, activistas y organizaciones que trabajan para promover la justicia racial y ambiental en el suroeste de Chicago y más allá.


Carlos Flores is an installation artist, radical community arts organizer, curator, and flower farmer based in the Archer Heights neighborhood of Chicago. He works with sculpture, painting and community based projects, centering creation of immersive installations that bring viewers face-to-face with issues of environmental justice, displacement, and race while at the same time seeding connection and care. These installations are often composed of sculptural elements that subvert historical tools of colonization and predatory capitalism away from extraction and toward placemaking. For example, in his Porta(til) series Carlos appropriates portable altars employed by Spanish missionaries from the 16th century and combines them with bandit signs (placed by gentrifying developers in vulnerable immigrant communities) to create hybrid ‘Rasquache’ wheelbarrows that serve as portable exhibition sites. With these works, he wants us to consider the insidious roots of power that tether histories of settlement and housing in the present day. 

Carlos was recently named a Leader for a New Chicago by the Field and MacArthur Foundations for his work in advancing the racial and social justice movement in the city. He is also a 2023 fellow of the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture Leaderships Institute in San Antonio and the recipient of the inaugural Ignite Award from 3Arts in 2022. He has exhibited his work at the Hyde Park Art Center, Heaven Gallery, Mana Contemporary, and the National Museum of Mexican Art, with a forthcoming exhibition at Comfort Station and a residency at Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest, IL.

Along with his visual practice, Carlos leads the exhibitions and programs of Chicago Art Department (CAD), a community art center in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. CAD offers residencies for twenty civically minded artists and over 100 free programs and exhibitions to the community annually. CAD residents are activists, educators, and community leaders of their own. His arts based organizing work also includes the founding of Contra Corriente, an annual symposium supporting artists, activists, and organizations working to advance environmental justice on the Southwest Side of Chicago—the first such survey in the city and the region. Additionally, Carlos is the current Anchor Resident with the Chicago Park District, a new curatorial residency that moves away from traditional art spaces and culminates with the creation of a mobile outdoor exhibition and performance venue at Marquette Park in the fall of 2024.




2020 –   

Visual Arts Certificate Program, University of Chicago Graham School

2016 –  

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Arts, University of Illinois at Chicago

Residencies / Fellowships 

2023 –     

Chicago Parks District Anchor Curatorial Residency at Marquette Park

NALAC Leadership Institute, San Antonio, Tx

Chuquimarca Projects Tanda, virtual

2017 –               

Ox-Bow School of Art Fall Residency, Saugatuck, MI

The Center Program, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL 

2016 –                 

Luminarts Visual Arts Fellowship, Chicago, IL

LAUNCH Invitational Residency, Chicago Artists Coalition

Curation / Programming

2023 – 

Comfort Station Dia De Los Muertos Festival, Chicago, IL *forthcoming*

Contra Corriente Festival, various sites, Chicago, IL *forthcoming*

Lit & Luz Festival at CAD, Chicago, IL *forthcoming*

SEEDS Healing Stage Series at CAD, Chicago, IL

2022 – 

Seeds In My Pocket 2022, Chicago, IL

CAD at MdW Fair, (co-curated with Amanda Cervantes) Mana Contemporary, Chicago IL 

Contra Corriente, Chicago, IL 

2021 – 

Lit & Luz Festival at CAD, Chicago. IL

Seeds In My Pocket, Chicago, IL

2020 – 

Long Time No See, Chicago, IL

When We Fight We Win, (co-curated with Silvia Gonzales) Chicago, IL

Tirar y Soltar, Chicago, IL

2019 –

Caravana Mx, Chicago Cultural Center 

Achievements / Awards  

2023 – 

Field  & MacArthur Foundations Leader for a New Chicago

2022 – 

Artist Run Chicago Fund, Hyde Park Art Center and Builders Initiative

Inaugural 3Arts Ignite Award in partnership with The Andy Warhol Foundation

2021 – 

Actos de Confianza, National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, United States

Luminarts Fellow Project Grant, Chicago IL

DCASE IAP Grant, Chicago IL

2020 – 

United States Artists Grant, Chicago IL

Spark Grant, Chicago Artists Coalition, Chicago, IL

2017 – 

Full Scholarship, The Center Program, Hyde Park Art Center

Fall Artists Residency Stipend Award, Ox-Bow, Saugatuck, MI       

2016 – 2017 

Luminarts Fellowship Award, Luminarts Foundation, Chicago IL

Education Advisory Group member for the Chicago Artists Coalition

2016 – 

UIC Faculty Award for Art, School of Art and Art History, University of Illinois at Chicago 

Talent Tuition Award, School of Art and Art History, University of Illinois at Chicago

2015 –          

Talent Tuition Award, School of Art and Art History, University of Illinois at Chicago

Exhibitions / Artist Talks 

2023 – 

Global Voices Talk, Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago *forthcoming*

Entrevista con Revista Contratiempo, *forthcoming*

2022 – 

Dia De Los Muertos: Memories and Offerings, National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, IL

Nubes Art Fair, Heaven Gallery,  Chicago IL 

POCAS SALON + Contra Corriente 2022, Chicago, IL

2021 – 

Roots and Culture Contemporary Art Center, Chicago, IL  *postponed*

2020 – 

Artist Run Chicago, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL

We’ll Figure It Out, Chicago Art Department, Chicago, IL

2019 –

Made In the Fab Lab, Polsky Exchange, Chicago, IL

Post Practice,  Chicago Art Department, Chicago, IL

2017 – 

Front & Center, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL

2016 –                

Project Zero Waste, Hostel Earphoria, Chicago, IL

Villarte, 11th annual Arts Festival, Chicago, IL

Luminarts Visual Arts Competition Exhibition, Union League Club of Chicago

As Little Defined As Anything Else, University of Illinois at Chicago

2014 –                  

Introspection: Anatomy of the Interior, 5th Floor Gallery, University of Illinois at Chicago

Recent Press 


Andy Warhol Foundation 


Block Club Chicago 

National Despierta América, Univision, aired Nov 2022

Using Format