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Chicago’s Gloe One Makes Art and Takes Action

Written by on October 7, 2019

Gloe Select 4

Gloria Talamantes, also known as Gloe One, is a graffiti artist, educator and neighborhood journalist.

Gloria Talamantes is an Editor at Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council and her striking murals can be seen on walls throughout the city including in South Loop and Back of the Yards.

Gloria’s art is inspired by mother nature, urban exploration, vintage Chicano Arte magazines, the graffiti she saw growing up in Little Village, and her rich cultural heritage. We chatted with Gloria about Chicago food, peace of mind, and the deep connection between art and activism…

To stream this interview on Spotify, click here.

Gloria Select 1

Where in Chicago are you from? Describe your neighborhood…

I was born in the little village neighborhood. I enjoy a variety of things in Little Village, from the smells to the sounds to just being surrounded by nature… lots of big trees. I enjoy walking and saying hello to the neighbors feels really natural. I just feel like it’s home.

What has it been like growing up/ living in Chicago? 

Growing up in Chicago has been both challenging and rewarding. I believe the most challenging part has been able to figure out the language to describe some of the injustices and some of the racial tensions that have existed and the segregation. I think that was very challenging.

Up until now I’m still learning to describe things and learning how to process things. But it’s also rewarding to grow up here in Chicago. I believe that it’s a very diverse city. There are a lot of good things that happen in Chicago, particularly the artist community. The artist community is a very solid community and I have found my home with my chosen family.

What do you love about Chicago?

What I love about Chicago is the food. Of course. I feel like you can drive anywhere, take the train anywhere to find good authentic dishes. I really love the people that make up Chicago, particularly the everyday people, the people that you see coming out of the grocery store or neighbors who you bump into. That’s a very Chicago thing to do… to just  talk to a stranger and tell them your story and learn from each other. I think that’s what I love about Chicago.

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Talk about the community and activism work that you do through art… 

My art is a variety of things. I write. I also do graffiti lettering and public art, visual art mostly. I utilize my art to educate about history. I think that organically has evolved into me wanting to take action in in a variety of ways. Whether it’s bringing awareness to something that’s happening, activating public spaces to make sure that they’re not privatized.

How has the city shaped your art?

When you see my visual art there’s definitely a street flavor to it but it’s also very soft. I feel like the city kind of shapes that for me. It’s made me really hard on the outside, but very soft on inside. Which can be both good and bad I guess… Bad because it has taken a lot to foster trustworthy relationships, but good because when these relationships are created they are solid and they’re worth the time spent nurturing.

At the end of the day, what would you like to give back to the community?

At the end of the day, I would like to provide peace of mind that you don’t have to leave the neighborhood to become your best self. I’ve always wanted to be that person that I needed when I was younger. What I would like to give back to my community is the knowledge and the skills that I have, in order for them to do whatever they wish to do with them… to become better humans.


Interview edited for length and clarity by Seamus Doheny

Audio produced by Fyodor Sakhnovski

Shot by Seamus Doheny

Mural Photo Courtesy of The Artist

Since 2016, we have been profiling people who give their all to Chicago and enrich us socially and culturally by virtue of their artistry, social justice work and community-building. Take a listen. Read their words. Become inspired.

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