Advancing reuse education through the arts

About the speaker

As a child, Mary Elizabeth Cantú dreamt of being Indiana Jones. Cantú is a native San Antonian and has worked in the fields of arts, education and culture in San Antonio for over 15 years. She earned her BA in Museum Education with a focus on Cultural Anthropology and Elementary Education from Mount Holyoke College then received a MA in Art Education, with a focus on Community-Based Art from the University of Texas, Austin. In 2013 she became a national Reuse Institute Master Reuser—the first and only in San Antonio. The St. Mary’s University (San Antonio, TX) Art of Peace Award was presented to Cantú in 2016. From 2017-18 she served as artist-in-residence for a public arts project funded by the City of San Antonio and National Endowment for the Arts.

Community engagement, art, education and green living have always been important to Cantú. All of these values amalgamated when she founded Spare Parts, a project dedicated to advancing reuse education through the arts. Her vision is to transform Spare Parts from a volunteer effort to a full-time organization. Spare Parts’ philosophy of art education is rooted in sustainable practices and motivated by the discarded.

Cantú co-founded the Spare Parts MINI ART MUSEUM (MAM) in 2013 to bring the fine arts museum experience to schools and the community worldwide. In July 2016 she travelled to Colombia, South America with a MAM exhibition curated by Daniel Rios Rodriguez. Her journey is documented on Instagram: miniartmuseum. During her visit, Cantú installed MAM in 12 locations including a music museum, a rural school, national park and even a beauty salon. She took “Un Poco De Todo,”/ “A Little Bit of Everything” works from MAM’s permanent collection to Edinburgh, Scotland in 2017. “Un Poco De Todo” exhibited art from San Antonio-based artists.

Cantú is currently Interim Director of the MINI ART MUSEUM, Executive Director of Spare Parts and an adjunct professor at Texas State University.

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