Max Emiliano Gonzales, also known by his artist name “GEMS”, can be classified as an activist, art educator, muralist, graffiti writer, printmaker, curator and much more. Originally from the Southwest side of Chicago and raised in latino communities, Max brings a unique perspective to Pittsburgh as a queer identifying, Chicano artist.
Max was brought to Pittsburgh in 2012 to attend Carnegie Mellon University’s Fine Art program on a full ride Scholarship. By 2016 Max had graduated with honors, secured multiple positions with the University, and was arrested as Pittsburgh’s most wanted graffiti artist. Rather than let the notoriety of his graffiti dwindle, Max has gone on to develop a career from it as practicing artist, muralist, curator, and art educator.
Max has presented as a guest artist, lectured, and run workshops at locations including The University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Winchester Thurston High School, Youth Places North Side, McKeesport, and Homewood, Assemble Pgh, and The Environmental Charter School. Max is also a member of Boom Concepts, Flower House Gallery, Wicked Pittsburgh, Hemispheric Conversations Urban Art Project, and Pullproof Studios. Currently, Max works for the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh as a Labs Mentor, servicing local teens with workshops and art programming.
Through his 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.