Emmanuel Cortés (Manny Manster) is a mix between an artist and an urban planner. Mexican by blood, Chicagoan by heart, and Brussels sprout for love – he has been based in Brussels since 2017. With a Masters in Urban Planning from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a background in fine arts, Cortés questions his world through sculptural objects and functional art. He is the product of a lower-class immigrant household, and started making art with free stuff. This has led him to explore reuse and zero waste methods.

His work is inspired by the chaotic nature of the urban environment, decomposition and the imperfect. Urban decay and erosion are experienced physically in the elements and infrastructure of a city, and in the sociopolitical systems by which people live. Re imagining the decay and erosion he experiences into functional art is a challenge he takes on by combining found materials and traditional media. His sculptures are composed of wood, metal, plastics, found objects and more often than not, textiles.

While keeping a creative practice, Emmanuel has launched a clothing brand called “Extra Medium.” The brand focuses on custom tailored pieces, specifically pants and jackets.

For Emmanuel, the practice of making clothing is fueled by questioning gender norms and designing for people rather than men or women. His clothing label, “Extra Medium” is meant to fit not only the body like a glove, but the client’s lifestyle as well. 

His approach to creating custom clothing is through an intimate interview where the client’s needs and desires are combined to create the perfect piece. Extra Medium pieces are functional forms worn as sculptural objects. 

He is constantly finding ways to merge his experiences in urban planning and art. Since 2011, he has collaborated with many artists and worked for artistic collectives and alternative structures of creation and diffusion.

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In 2016 I co-authored and designed a master plan for the community area of West Town in Chicago. A digital copy of the 5 year master plan can be found  here: Master Plan .pdf