Max Emiliano Gonzales



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.