Mary Elizabeth Cantu
Executive Director, Spare Parts
As a child, Mary Elizabeth Cantu dreamt of being Indiana Jones. Cantu is a native San Antonian and has worked in the fields of arts, education and culture in San Antonio for over 10 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.
Community engagement, art, education and green living have always been important to Cantu. All of these values amalgamated when she founded Spare Parts, a project dedicated to: cultural and environmental sustainability; affordability and accessibility to the arts; and community, education & creativity, green-style. Its main objective is to connect with various agencies & businesses to provide a steady supply of materials, which would otherwise be thrown away, for the artistic community & educators to increase the creative and cultural energy of San Antonio. Her vision is to transform Spare Parts from a volunteer effort to a full-time organization.
Cantu also co-founded the Spare Parts MINI ART MUSEUM with Gabriela Santiago in 2013 to bring the fine arts museum experience to schools and the community.
Director, Spare Parts Mini Art Museum
Gabriela Santiago is the co-founder of the MINI ART MUSEUM. Santiago has been developing and facilitating education opportunities with community organizations, arts organizations and museums and in the classroom across Texas for over seven years. She has collaborated with Mexic-Arte Museum, The Children’s Shelter, McNay Art Museum, Artpace San Antonio, Blue Star Contemporary and founded a residency program in San Antonio for emerging artists, TRANSIT.
Anika Blanco: Scorpio, artist and educator. She has BFA in Communication Design and MA in Art Education. Ever since she was seven years old, she has been in some type of art class. As an educator, she is motivated by her students’ fresh, creative minds. Blanco finds serenity in visual arts by experimenting with color and mixed media. She advocates for a healthy mind/body, balanced lifestyle. Blanco appreciates Spare Parts for inspiring creative reuse and for the amazing sense of community formed around the organization.
Kim Bishop is a practicing, exhibiting artist with thirty years of arts education experience in the public school system. She holds a BFA from Southwest Texas State University in Commercial Art and Advertising, five lifetime teaching certifications with a Texas State Gifted and Talented Education Endorsement and a MA in Curriculum & Instruction from Texas State University. During her time as a studio art and AP Art History instructor Bishop maintained a fine arts career by having an extensive solo and group show prospectus. She is co-founder of Art To The Third Power, a community arts based artist collective that focuses on building and archiving cultural capital for San Antonio. Her mission to create, educate and build a legacy of arts and art history is rooted in her philosophy that it is through the arts that we are a humane civilization. This is why she believes that working as an educator with Spare Parts is a perfect fit for her – because “Actions ‘do’ have Consequences.”
Dezarre Boone is a graduate of Providence Catholic School and a student at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio. This college girl enjoys upcycled crafting and watercolor painting. She believes in Spare Parts’ mission of providing upcycled materials within the classroom. “I am very honored to be apart of an organization that brings the community together to save the earth.”
Sarah Dunckel is an artist and art educator with great affection for the San Antonio community. With a BFA from the University of Texas, Austin, she has taught children of all ages in San Antonio. Her own work includes drawing, painting, stage sets, installations and murals. She enjoys working with the Spare Parts family; collecting and using reusable materials to help children and adults express themselves while maintaining respect for planet Earth.
A teaching artist, Gabbe Grodin lives and works in San Antonio. With a BFA from Indiana University and MFA from Rutgers in New Jersey, a nomadic spirit has landed Grodin back in Texas after many years. “I love to share what I have learned about art-making, especially when it overlaps with ethical behaviors in the environment.”
Jennifer Herrera is a native San Antonian and holds the position of Community and Media Engagement Manager at KLRN. She enjoys tackling various DIY projects, writing and volunteering. Naturally, Herrera holds a passion for bringing communities together in interesting ways. This explains her interest in supporting Spare Parts. Through art and environmental accountability, Spare Parts is creating something unseen in San Antonio. Spare Parts is helping guide the young and the young at heart to turning everyday objects into art.
Laura Kraus is a Youth Librarian at Bulverde/Spring Branch Library and provides programming for ages 0 to 18. She has a BA in English from the University of the Incarnate Word and a Master’s in Library Science from University of North Texas. Kraus keeps busy chasing around her young son. She also can be seen volunteering at a program she helped create called Fix It Clinics at Austin Public Library, where she teaches people how to fix damaged items such as clothing and jewelry. Spare Parts is close to her heart, as she feels strongly about educating people about the power of reuse in today’s world.
Educator & Volunteer
Tracy Murphy is originally from Florida and has always loved art in many forms. She graduated from Florida State University, with a degree in Studio Art. After many moves with her family from Germany to Georgia to Texas and several places in between, she, her (retired, military) husband and three children settled here in San Antonio. She currently teaches Middle School art and loves to watch her students’ creativity bloom as they learn and experiment with many art mediums.
Spare Parts helped provide supplies for her classrooms when her campus art programs were growing. Spare Parts is also a catalyst in making her, her family and students more “Earth-Aware” by reducing-reusing-recycling many items back into creating art.
Educator & Volunteer
Claudia Peña-Martinez was born and raised in Laredo, TX–a culturally diverse city located on the north bank of the Rio Grande in South Texas. Her passion for art was initiated during a trip to Europe in the early 1990s where she encountered gothic architecture and artwork of the “Great Masters.” She moved to San Antonio in the winter of 2000 to pursue an art degree. Peña-Martinez graduated from the University of Texas, San Antonio with a BFA with a focus in photography and a minor in Art History. In 2010, with a continued passion for art and education, Peña-Martinez pursued a teaching certification. She has been art educator for five years & currently teaches jr. high art at a local public school. Peña-Martinez also runs an Etsy shop where she sells her photography, paintings and jewelry. She loves volunteering and working as an educator for Spare Parts because it gives her another creative outlet while using repurposed materials to help children and adults express themselves artistically.
Kara Salinas is an emerging artist and educator from San Antonio, who prior to teaching worked in the field of Architecture. She holds a BS in Architecture from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and a MA in Art Education from Boston University. It is from her education and work experience in Architecture where she develops ideas for installation art or sculptures. She seeks to exhibit art in surprising locations, to truly make art public, and accessible beyond the gallery or museum walls.
She is an artist dedicated to creating art with themes that are approachable to even the youngest of viewers. She associates her art to play, and encourages an awe and wonder from viewers when viewing or engaging with her art. Salinas is also an artist whose work has underlying tones heavily rooted in ideas of reuse and repurposing materials, while introducing non-traditional art-making supplies. Spare Parts continues to be an ongoing interest and source of inspiration.