Ricardo Gamboa

Artist Statement

What next? Currently, I am writing the script for a film shooting next summer in Chicago about the Mexican-American family, decay of the American Dream and good life fantasy, and queer possibility. I am also working on a solo playformance mixing autobiography and writing a novel for in independent queer press in New York City. Additional projects include performing with the Southside Ignoramus Quartet, directing the Young Fugitives' production of Cold Summer, and pursuing my Ph.D. in American Studies at New York University.


I am a post-disciplinary artist, often working classifiably as a writer, director, performer, and filmmaker. The strands of my artistic production share a commitment to social change. Whether appropriating social media outlet like Instagram with radical ethos or re-writing the cliche teenage love story with a politicized punch, my work not only explores change content but also in the artistic process itself. Involving direct community action and grassroots collaborations are as important as attempts to break aesthetic and genre conventions while undermining notions of artistic legitimacy. Ultimately, I am interested in how can allow us to embody and model new ways of being together.


As a child, I was obsessed with comic books super heroes and teams. The ideas of individuals possessing extraordinary abilities, exceeding their circumstances, banding together to fight the bad guys was moving and stuck. My artistic work is largely grounded in this idealism. I believe everyone really does have superhuman potential and that we really can work together to forge a new world. Activists and artists ranging from Andy Warhol and Felix Gonzalez-Torres to George Jackson and Martin Luther King, Jr. are real-life superheroes to me who challenged aesthetic and social status quo and continue to inspire me.

Why Chicago?

I was born and raised on Chicago's Southside. I grew up watching my father play baseball and my mother run at Harrison Park every Sunday. The Bulls championships, the death of Eric Morse, summer days along the lakefront, epidemic youth violence--These events have all impressed upon me. My work centers on putting into frame the experiences and stories of Chicago and I have worked with over 1,000 young people in the city. For me, working in Chicago is not a choice, but a commitment--and, it is home.

I live in Pilsen and grew up in Little Village, Pilsen, Mt. Greenwood and Beverly; went to school in Morgan Park and took art classes downtown; and worked in schools, community centers, and theaters everywhere from Rogers Park to Stony Island. I have love for a lot of neighborhoods. And I've seen neighborhoods change, forced to say good-bye to landmark's in my biography. Whether staging Chicago Mexican immigrant narratives, shooting films about forgotten working class heroes, or devising performance art with Englewood teens, my “neighbors” are integral to my work. My art is in a feedback and feedforward relationship with this city.


Ricardo Gamboa is an artist, activist, and academic working in his native Chicago and New York City. In Chicago, Gamboa was a Company Member of Barrel of Monkeys and Artistic Director of Teatro Americano. Most recently, he was an Artist-in-Residence at Free Street Theater and the National Museum of Mexican Art's Yollocalli Artsreach. He performs with the Southside Ignoramus Quartet and helped found the Young Fugitives, an independent teen performance ensemble creating challenging work about issues affecting their lives. Gamboa has received several awards for his writing, performance and film work and has worked with over 1,000 young people in Chicago.