The National Museum of Women in the Arts Wants Your Family Recipes for an Upcoming Exhibit

handwritten recipe cards

Do you have a hand-me-down recipe or signature dish that you've always believed was museum-worthy? Because the National Museum of Women in the Arts would like to feature it in an upcoming exhibition. 

The Washington, D.C. museum is currently accepting submissions for "RECLAMATION: Recipes, Remedies, and Rituals," which will open on January 18 and run through the end of next year. The all-virtual exhibition, which is part of the museum's ongoing Women, Arts, and Social Change program, will combine the work of nine interdisciplinary artists with the stories, recipes, and photos that are provided by members of the public. 

"RECLAMATION is an evolving exhibition and ingredient archive that examines food as a creative medium for visual art and a connective tool for exploring intergenerational and intercultural experiences," the Museum explains. "The exhibition centers around a kitchen table, the central domestic object for gatherings of family and friends. Nine artists will activate their own kitchen tables, sharing photographs, videos and stories about how they use this domestic object. These intimate glimpses into the artists’ homes simultaneously reveal a work of art and the process by which it is made."

According to DCist, the artists that were chosen to participate in RECLAMATION are chefs Jenny Dorsey and Lauren Von Der Pool; multi-hyphenate dancers Sharayna Ashanti Christmas and Djassi DaCosta Johnson; community artist Aletheia Hyun-Jin Shin; interdisciplinary artists Tsedaye Makonnen and Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz; and textile designer Maggie Pate. 

Melani Douglass, the museum’s director of public programs, also curated this exhibition, and sent the artists 25 prompts to work from. "Wherever they eat or however they choose to prepare their food is their gallery, their own museum,” she told DCist. “The one thing that ties everyone together is that there is something about the act of ‘reclaiming’ in each of their practices, something about how and why they reclaim that pushes their work forward.”

Those who are interested in submitting a recipe, remedy, or personal reflection can do so through the museum's website. "RECLAMATION seeks to have us all reconnect with ourselves, our ancestors, and our food traditions," the site reads. "By cooking for ourselves and nourishing our loved ones, we reconnect to our heritage and also establish traditions for our communities." 

Each recipe is encouraged to have a photo of the dish that accompanies it and to share the story behind it. There is also a more comprehensive form for submissions, which prompts participants to provide the recipe's country or region of origin, and to recognize the person or people who passed the recipe down or shared it. 

“In telling the memory rather than the recipe, people can participate without replicating or echoing past experiences where cultural identity was negated or appropriated,” Douglass said. “Through this pantry we wanted to tell stories that challenge these narratives and complicate our understanding of the history of these ingredients.”

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