Mauricio Pineda is originally from Ecuador where he obtained a Visual Communication Engineering degree. He also attended the Art Academy in his hometown of Quito for three years. In trying to establish himself as a visual artist, he discovered his real passion when invited to teach art at the CMT (Centro del Muchacho Trabajador--Working Children’s Center). The CMT is an organization that provides food, school, health and house-building to very impoverished families in Ecuador, having the families of the students as the main support system that upholds the community. Through this experience, Mauricio learned firsthand about the importance of community organizing, social justice, humility and empowerment. For three years he helped the families attending the center to build homes in the outskirts of the city, served in the community kitchen, taught art to children in grades K-12 as well as families, participated in an initiative to broadcast classes through the radio for the community, and painted murals and other pieces of art to collect funds to continue to support the CMT.
In Chicago, where he has resided for the last 9 years, he holds a Master's degree in Art Education from Columbia College. Mauricio served as a board member for the Chicago Freedom School, helping empower youth to fight adultism while learning about historical social movements to apply those lessons to their current social and environmental context. Mauricio is an activist who has volunteered for Project NIA, where he has illustrated pamphlets, created posters and various works of art as well as participated in panels, discussions, communiversities and art shows supporting the ending of youth incarceration in favor of community-based means of accountability for violence and crime. Mauricio was also invited to Radio Arte, a former extension of the National Museum of Mexican Art, to facilitate a workshop using Theatre of the Oppressed techniques to create radio-theater pieces exploring the issues of minorities, especially Latino immigrants.
Mauricio has also developed and presented various projects in partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art. Through this projects, he has been able to explore the use of Restorative Practices and art as tools for reflection, healing, and community building.
Currently, Mauricio is the Arts Liaison and chair of the Arts department at CPS Reilly Elementary School and serves as the head of the school’s Restorative Practices initiative that tries to find alternatives to the suspension and detention of students. This program has been highly recognized by CPS’s Office of Social Emotional Learning which granted Mauricio the opportunity to present at various workshops for teachers, administrators, community organizations, and also to participate in a roundtable discussion with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s Chief of Police and community leaders to discuss Restorative Practices in Chicago Public Schools, its effects inside and outside the school settings, and ways to make our communities safer.