Mark Nelson, NBCT and artist, moved to Chicago in 1984 from the Panama Canal Zone to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work has been shaped by his time in Latin America and his life in Pilsen. Lifelong friendships with artists Rene Arceo, Arturo Barrera and 2003 OPPY Winner Francisco Mendoza inspired Mark to become a Chicagoan and an art teacher.
Nelson's teaching experiences in CPS began with college work-study programs and Art Resources in Teaching. He became a full-time CPS teacher at Stone Academy where he designed and taught a K-8 art program for 18 years. In the summer Mark serves as a U.S. National Park Ranger in Arizona and South Dakota. Mark has produced 21 video documentary shorts for these two parks and shared them with his students as part of the TRT (Teacher-Ranger-Teacher) program. His local videos have also featured some of the talent and resources in Chicago's Latino community and have been aired on Chicago Access Cable TV. This year Mark transferred to Schurz High School as a member of the art faculty and is now teaching art and photography.
A recipient of numerous grants and awards as a teacher, including annual TIGs for two decades, in 2008 he was honored as a Golden Apple Teacher of Distinction. He is serving as an adjunct faculty for Triton College. Mark has also been accorded an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship. His work is in private collections, as well as in the new U.S. Embassy-Consulate in the Republic of Panama. His Gringolandia art studio and home is in Pilsen where he lives with his wife, Anna Kong, retired CPS teacher and previous TIG winner.