Mine, Yours, Ours: Kitchen and Familial Stories

ON VIEW: January 20–February 17, 2024 

OPENING RECEPTION: Saturday, January 20, 2024, 4–7 PM CST

ARTISTS WALKTHROUGH: Saturday, February 17, 2–4 PM CST

CHICAGO—Woman Made Gallery (WMG) is proud to present Mine, Yours, Ours: Kitchen and Familial Stories, a group exhibition with work by 30 artists. Curated by Archana Shekara, the timing for this theme is most fitting after a season filled with festivities and food traditions. Impacted by their diverse upbringings, the artists in this exhibition lovingly share food-related tales flavored with cherished memories and nostalgia. The opening reception will be held on Saturday, January 20, from 4 to 7 p.m. at WMG’s new location: 1332 S. Halsted St., Chicago, IL 60607.

Part of the opening celebration will be Let’s Chaat hosted by Archana Shekara. This social practice artwork invites the general public to eat Churmuri, an Indian street food from Karnataka state, as prepared by the artist. Participants will write a phrase expressing their memories of taste, and their written language will become a part of the installation.

In the initial call for art, Archana Shekara wrote: “People who migrate carry with them remembrances of both joy and life’s burdens. Many have felt grief and resistance at leaving their homelands; others have left willingly with dreams and hopes for freedom, safety, and bread. However, the new land originally belonged to someone else—it had been stolen from its original inhabitants, and generations of cultures were erased due to genocide. With gratitude and compassion to the original inhabitants, we now call this land home. We seek to acknowledge the colonial injustices and racial exploitations as we explore uncharted territories. We embrace, adopt, adapt, and adjust to cultural climatic shifts, barriers, and expectations. Many migrant communities choose to acculturate to their new country while preserving their ancestral heritage, native language, and familial values and traditions, while others take refuge in denouncing their original culture and assimilating to the dominant culture. Our cultural roots connect us with our histories, which could be comforting or horrid, glorified or marginalized, celebrated or stereotyped. Our cultural experiences are bound with our communities and our home, preserved in our memories, and passed down as seeds for generations to reap.

“Our kitchens tell our unique story. The way we eat, the ingredients we buy, the utensils we use, the foods we cook and serve, and the familiarity of tastes are influenced by our ancestral cultural roots and amalgamated identities. Food is an expression of our cultural experiences and emotions. It brings people together during joyful celebrations or sorrowful moments. Food binds us socially and helps build community and foster a sense of belonging. It is a catalyst for creating cross-cultural awareness, understanding, appreciation, and respect. Food is the first level of digesting another culture.”

Exhibiting Artists and Designers: J White Burton, Emilia Chang, Kelly Ciurej, Cathleen Cramer, Amrita Datta, Idil Duman, Isabelle Camillo Engelson, Yumi Erica Fukuda, Megan Fulton, Victoria Gerson, Annikah Godard, Sara Anais Gonzalez, Jen Lau, Ludi Leiva, Nora Moore Lloyd, Lisett Lopez, Mildred Annani Mercado, Courtney Nzeribe, Zsófia Ötvös, Sameena Jabeen Rao, Natalie Reynoso, Pranavi Rohit, Abby Rosenberger, Summer Shin, Mary Ellen Sisulak, Alicia Staples, Christl Stringer, Noemi Taboada Gomez, Karina Yanes, Ting Zhou

About the Juror: Archana Shekara is an Indian American artist and designer. At Illinois State University, she is a professor of Graphic Design, the co-director of Ethnic Studies, and the creative director of Design Streak Studio, a research-based social innovation lab focusing on human-centered service design. Shekara uses design as a tool to build cross-cultural understanding, acceptance, and respect.

As a socio-cultural researcher, Shekara investigates her transnational identity by understanding racial equity and decoloniality through a brown cultural lens and creates critical awareness using ethnographic narratives. Her creative expression takes on various forms, such as designing typefaces, curating immersive participatory experiences, and building interactive installations using mixed and various emerging digital media that evoke multisensory responses. Shekara’s design research interests and scholarship in pedagogy include cultural identity, design for belonging, social justice, and community engagement. Her innovative teaching methodologies and research have been featured in peer-reviewed national and international academic and professional publications, as well as conferences including the Association Typographique Internationale (ATypI), Typography Day, Digitally Engaged Learning (DEL), MODE Summit, Electronic Visualization and the Arts (EVA) London, Society of Experiential Design (SEGD), AIGA Design Educators Conference (DEC), College Art Association (CAA), Southeastern College Art Conference (SECAC), 5th Virtual Design Education Forum, and UCDA Design Educators Summit.

Shekara was featured in the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA)’s One Designer, One Work series, and in 1000 Spotlights Magazine by Speakerpost, a social impact global platform which connects educators with industry experts. She is the founder and chair of the South Asian Design Educators Alliance (SADEA), which aims to promote, advance, and share South Asian design histories, pedagogies, and perspectives globally. Shekara received an MFA in Graphic Design from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a BFA in Painting from the State University of New York in New Paltz.

For more information, visit Archana Shekara’s website: https://www.theherproject.art/

Dialogues + Dishes Collaboration: Archana Shekara and Meena Khalili

(Images of collaborative project by Archana Shekara and Meena Khalili.)

Mine, Yours, Ours Press Release

(Banner Image: Artwork by Victoria Gerson: Vovó’s (Grandma’s) Recipe Book (2023) – photography and digital collage | right image: Archana Shekara)

Gallery Hours: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 12–5 PM CST | WMG is closed between exhibitions. 

Woman Made Gallery is supported in part by grants from The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special EventsThe Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley FoundationThe Illinois Arts Council Agency; and the Arts Midwest GIG Fund, a program of Arts Midwest that is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional contributions from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, the Puffin Foundation, a major anonymous donor, and the generosity of its members and contributors.