THE KITCHEN TABLE STORIES PROJECT, 21/22 Curatorial Fellowship Exhibition curated by Melissa Raman Molitor, Opening Reception
KITCHEN TABLE STORIES
EXHIBITION DATES: July 9 – August 21, 2022
OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, July 15 from 6-9pm
GALLERY HOURS: Monday–Friday, 9am–6pm; Saturday and Sunday, 9am–4pm
The Evanston Art Center (EAC) is proud to present a new exhibition, Kitchen Table Stories, curated by 2021 / 2022 Curatorial Fellow, Melissa Raman Molitor.
Traditional cultural and healing practices are creative embodiments of a people, and are often expressed through the arts. They have been passed down from generations and are integral to daily life. Few customs and traditions throughout the world have been untouched by colonialism and imperialism, and many have been misappropriated or eradicated. Decolonizing the arts involves reclaiming, renewing, and reaffirming these practices. It necessitates critically examining the structures that are in place to oppress and erase people and communities. It is decentering the dominant white narrative and shifting focus to spaces, voices, and stories that represent people who are racialized and marginalized due to their social identities.
The “Kitchen Table Stories” exhibition is a step towards reimagining the spaces that have historically excluded Asian, South Asian, and Pacific Islander American voices. Despite the current movement towards the decolonization of museums and galleries, artists of color remain underrepresented across the US. The attempts to be more inclusive are often exercises in fetishization, exoticization, and tokenization of black and brown artists. Who are the cultural gatekeepers of these spaces? Who decides which stories are told? Who tells them? Who contextualizes them? Who witnesses them?
The “Kitchen Table Stories” exhibition is a celebration of stories shared by local artists who identify as Asian, South Asian and Pacific Islander. Artists were asked to share the stories that have been passed down to them from ancestors through family and friends, and create work that reflects their own lived experiences. The result is an exploration of the intersections of immigration, citizenship, race, culture, social identity, multigenerational relationships, and family history. In the spirit of stories that are shared at the “kitchen table,” the guest is invited to participate by engaging in discourse that considers the importance of telling our own stories and the power of the arts in that process. The audience is asked to reflect on universal themes such as language, food, home, family, heroes, and belonging through the lens of their Asian, South Asian, and Pacific Islander neighbors in a space that centers hospitality as an art form that draws on cultural wisdom, lineal healing, and collective care.
27 artists will be participating in the exhibition, listed here in order of last name; Jose G. Aggari Jr., June Chen Ahleman, Daniel Aquino, Magdalena Argüelles, James Bulosan, Jocelyn Byer, Ashwaty Chennat & Pranita Nayar, Sun Choi, Pritika Chowdry, Cesar Conde, Susan Cua, Kevin L. Cuasay, Marissa Domantay, Alyssa Marie Obcemea Gayapa, Richard Gessert, Indira Freitas Johnson, Alex Belardo Kostiw, Geraldine Martinez-Benz, Viola Mayol, Jessa Mae Mendiola, Abbey Monsalud, Melissa Raman Molitor, Jason Reblando, Jonathan Taala, and Sara Whyte.
This exhibition is part of The Kitchen Table Stories Project, a multimedia healing justice initiative that aims to address generational trauma from systemic violence and oppression by reclaiming ancestral healing practices, renewing cultural rituals and traditions, and reaffirming the interconnectedness of art and daily life. The project centers the voices, experiences, and stories of the local Asian, South Asian, and Pacific Islander American diaspora, and intends to claim space in the community through the arts. For more information visit www.kitchentablestoriesproject.com.
ABOUT THE CURATOR
Melissa Raman Molitor, ATR-BC, LCPC (she / her), is a socially engaged artist who creates liminal spaces in which art is a form of critical consciousness and healing justice. Her work involves the exploration of personal and collective identity through assemblage and multimedia narratives, and her activism centers the power of art to foster human connection, community building, creative placemaking, and social awareness.
Melissa is an Associate Professor, Adj. at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and founding director of Kids Create Change, a non-profit organization that utilizes art to promote sociocultural awareness, build community, and engage young people in self-advocacy and creative action towards equity and justice. She is the former founding director of Connection Arts Chicago where she developed community art studios and therapeutic art programs with immigrant and refugee communities throughout the city, and previous owner of Art & Soul where she served as Director of Community Outreach and Programs. She is most recently a former founding board member of Evanston Made and currently serves on the Evanston Arts Council. Melissa holds a BA degree in Psychology and a BFA with a concentration in ceramics and photography from the University of Michigan. She received an MA in Art Therapy from SAIC and is a registered, board-certified art therapist and licensed clinical professional counselor.
The Curatorial Fellowship program serves as an extension of the Evanston Art Center’s nonprofit mission to foster the appreciation and expression of the arts among diverse audiences. It also fulfills its vision to be widely recognized as a dynamic art education and exhibition center that encourages freedom of artistic expression and enriches cultural life. The EAC strives to be a hub of artistic endeavors, a passionate advocate for the arts, and a valuable partner for arts initiatives in the Evanston community.
“Kitchen Table Stories” will be on display in the Evanston Art Center’s First Floor Gallery + Atrium from July 9 – August 21, 2022, with an opening reception on Friday, July 15 from 6-9pm. The exhibition and opening reception are free and open to the public. This project is partially funded by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and EAC’s general membership.
Evanston Art Center, a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organization, is dedicated to fostering the appreciation and expression of the arts among diverse audiences. The Art Center offers extensive and innovative instruction in broad areas of artistic endeavor through classes, exhibitions, interactive arts activities, and community outreach initiatives.
Evanston Art Center is located at 1717 Central Street, Evanston, IL. Evanston Art Center Gallery Hours: Monday– Friday, 9am–6pm; Saturday and Sunday, 9am–4pm. First and second floor gallery spaces are accessible. Limited free parking is available. Masks are optional but strongly recommended for students, visitors, and staff.
For more information, please visit us online at www.evanstonartcenter.org or Audrey Avril, Manager of Exhibitions, at 847.475.5300 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the Evanston Art Center on Facebook: www.facebook.com/EvanstonArtCenter/, follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/#!/evartcenter, or on Instagram: @EvanstonArtCenter.