Mary Elizabeth Cantu

  • Arts Education
  • San Antonio, TX

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 15 years. She earned her BA in Museum Education with a focus on Cultural Anthropology and Elementary Education from Mount Holyoke College (Massachusetts) 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 in San Antonio and in 2016 Cantu received St. Mary’s University’s Art of Peace Award.

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 and creativity, green-style. Its main objective is to connect with various agencies and businesses to provide a steady supply of materials, which would otherwise be thrown away, for the artistic community and 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.