Gabriel Pacheco: Creator, Fixer, Teacher

By Gabriella Robles, Class of 2018

In the autumn air of October, the mother of 6 year-old Gabriel Pacheco did what many mothers do during this season. She bought her son a Halloween costume.

It was a hawk costume, which came with a jumper outfit and a plastic mask— the kind that covers only the front of your face, with a rubber band to hold it in place.

But 6-year old Gabriel had other plans for his Halloween costume.

He chopped up the mask and jumper with scissors and began to make a collage using the different colors and fabrics.

“At that time, I didn’t realize I was making art,” said Pacheco. “I saw it as a game… But now, looking back, I realize that was the beginning of my passion.”

This was only the beginning of Pacheco’s love for art and his longing to bring others to appreciate the beauty of creating.

His sense of creativity resonated with him throughout his education. He attended SUNY Purchase for high school, where he was taking advanced art classes. Although, Pacheco was far from the ideal student.

“Every class, I would critique this one teacher. I just felt she wasn’t good,” Pacheco said. “It got to the point where I had to go to my guidance counselor and explain that this lady didn’t know what she was doing.”

His guidance counselor then suggested New York’s Parsons School of Design to further Gabriel’s interest in the arts.

Now, at the age of 40,  Gabriel has done just that. He has been featured in local and international art shows including a multitude of galleries in the Brooklyn and Long Island area.

He completed a fellowship in glass blowing and a one-year residency in Cape Town, South Africa, where he was featured in Greatmore Studios Gallery.

Pacheco describes himself as an artist who creates pieces that are “informed by self-definition, cultural identity and acknowledgement of community.”

But Gabriel is not only an artist. He is also a teacher.

His education led him to Purchase College to pursue Art Education and later to Columbia University Teachers’ College for his masters.

After teaching a few children’s art classes in the Jersey City gallery “The Distillery,” Pacheco then found himself at Jersey City Theater Center.

Every Saturday, Gabriel volunteers with the Jersey City Theater Center to offer a beginner art class to children between the ages of 6 and 12.

“Gabriel shows us how to be real artists,” said 5 year-old Anna, a student in Gabriel’s Saturday morning art classes at the Jersey City Theater Center.

Each week, Gabriel teaches his class about art from various different countries in the world. So far the class has studied India, Dominican Republic, and South Africa, with their next stop being China.

“I like learning stuff from different countries and making art about it,” said 9-year old Gaby, another student in Gabriel’s class.

During one class, Gabriel had the children make printing stamps out of cardboard his neighbor was planning to throw away.

“People throw away things with value all the time. I want my students to understand that you can reclaim something and transform it,” said Gabriel.

These ideals are visible through Gabriel’s own work. He uses natural materials such as wood to carve his sculptures.

“The way people teach is a reflection of who they are,” said Gabriel. “I want the kids to come out of my classes being better presenters and understand the value of anything.”

But whether Gabriel Pacheco is teaching art or making it himself, he believes art can be found anywhere:

“Art is a sense of being a creator, but also a fixer. It’s looking at something and finding something beautiful about it.”

You can find more information on Gabriel’s art classes at the Jersey City Theater Center here.

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