Max Gonzales & Shane Pilster

Resident Artist
Painter / Graphic Artist

Shane Pilster and Max Gonzalez are collaborators of HCUAP (Hemispheric Conversations Urban Art Project) and founders of the “Do What We Love” initiative working in Pittsburgh PA. Shane’s work bridges his expertise in graffiti and urban arts with community involvement, he prides himself in also being an educator, advocate, mentor, and well-rounded creative individual.

Max has gone on to develop a career from graffiti writing as a practicing artist, muralist, curator, and art educator. Through their different roles as an artist, Max seeks to give value to underrepresented voices, movements, and art forms to challenge any established socioeconomic barriers, elitism, or bigotry to redefine the role and importance of art.

HCUAP brings visiting artists from the Americas to paint murals, lead workshops, give lectures, and interact with communities throughout the Pittsburgh Region. We create shared opportunities for youth and adult arts education; public conversations about art, activism and social justice; mentorship and networking opportunities for underrepresented artists; and site specific murals across the city. We offer three-pronged and synthetic programming: youth workshops, mural production, and public conversations to use dialogue about the arts as a prism for addressing larger community needs. HCUAP was founded in 2016 as a partnership between Caitlin Bruce (Associate Professor of Communication); Oreen Cohen (artist, educator, and community programmer); Shane Pilster (artist, graphic designer, curator and programmer); and Max Gonzales (artist, community organizer, curator and organizer). HCUAP is now led by Bruce, Pilster, Gonzales, and Emma Riva (Curator, art writer). Our workshops are led by Shane and Max with shorter visits from visiting guest artists in residence.

Shane: Working as a teaching artist for 15 years, leading programming for 10 years, and collaborating with a variety of artists and teachers over that time, I try to be as open minded as possible to their current curriculum. Offering ideas, new approaches, lesson ideas, et cetera wherever possible. There is no knowledge in teaching that is sacred and shouldn’t be passed onto others, so any successful practices I’ve learned over the years I try to pass onto other teachers.

Max: As a full time, professional artist/muralist, I have a unique insight into the practical applications of the arts as a career. I think that a successful art community is dependent on a strong network of artists and educators. Being able to share my resources and network of professionals can make real change to an artist’s, educator’s or aspiring artist’s access to opportunities. The stronger we collectivize our interests and demands as artists, the more effective our voice will be in creating institutional change. I also hope to remove many of the stigmas that exist around the life of a professional artist. As a sober, queer, latinx person who has found success, I am able to present an image of potential success for those artists who wish to follow the path of “the artist”.