Efrén Candelaria was born in Puerto Rico. He was the only son in a large family, and grew up in an environment that was rich in artistic inspiration. He studied at the University of Puerto Rico for two years before transferring to the University of Miami, where he earned a degree in Painting and Sculpture.
Candelaria developed his studio practice in Florida for five years before moving to New York City, where he was able to grow exponentially as an artist. He traveled throughout Latin America, the United States, and Puerto Rico exhibiting his work in group and solo shows.
After a long trip to Argentina in 2008, he decided to settle in Chicago. In 2012, decided to shift his studio based practice to a collaborative community based approach. He co-founded the interdisciplinary atelier Sobremesa Supper Club, based in the Pilsen neighborhood, and began working at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. For the past three years, Candelaria has been developing and strengthening the Pilsen Community using food as the vehicle to bring people from all walks of life over communal food centered events that promote cross-cultural dialogues among peers.
For Candelaria, art is a way of bringing fresh new perspectives to everything from daily life to creative output. “Honesty and self-awareness will lead you to find originality on anything you set out to accomplish.”