For this year’s Student Lending Art Program exhibition the List Center invited artist Evelyn Rydz to create a participatory installation and site of social engagement for MIT students and the MIT arts community. Rydz creates an intimate table setting to gather, listen, share and create. A La Mesa calls participants to the table to partake in a shared communal meal made up of diverse stories. It is a call to welcome strangers through acts of hospitality, trust and generosity.
This participatory installation is inspired by Rydz’s ongoing mutligenerational project Comida Casera which uses food and storytelling to connect women and create community. The aim of the project is to bring together a diverse group of women from different fields, neighborhoods, generations, and backgrounds to map ideas of home through food and the women who share their stories. The Comida Casera project seeks to cultivate community and build lasting connections that exist well beyond each event.
For A La Mesa, participants are invited to sit at the table and listen to stories culled from previous Comida Casera community events. Through a series of drop-in projects and scheduled workshops, participants will use layers of colorful shapes to create step-by-step recipe instruction booklets inspired by the people and food that form a sense of home. Participants will be invited to share their diagrammed recipe stories and contribute their booklets to a shared library exploring the places, people and shared dishes that shape their connections to home.
About the Artist
Evelyn Rydz was raised in Miami and currently lives in Boston where she creates visual art and community-based projects. Rydz is the recipient of a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant, Brother Thomas Fellowship, Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship, SMFA Traveling Fellowship, Artist Resource Trust Grant, and a Visual Arts Finalist of the Cintas Knight Foundation. She has exhibited her work at the Lowe Art Museum, Miami, FL; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Havana Biennial, Palacio de la Justicia, Matanzas, Cuba; Palmer Art Museum, Penn State University, PA; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA; Cooper Gallery, Harvard University, MA; Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Eugene, OR; El Parque Cultural del Caribe, Barranquilla, Colombia; USC Fisher Museum, Los Angeles, CA; DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, MA; Anchorage Museum, AK; Brattleboro Museum, Vermont, and Tufts University among others. Rydz is currently an Associate Professor at Massachusetts College of Art and Design.
Comida Casera is an ongoing multigenerational project created by Rydz in 2016. The project has taken place at a variety of spaces in Boston and Miami from universities, libraries, galleries, to backyards with co-hosts including the Office of Justice, Equity and Transformation at MassArt, Cooper Gallery at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Art and Carpenter Center for Visual Arts at Harvard University, Samson Projects, ICA Watershed, SMFA at Tufts University Library, and Boston University’s 808 Gallery. As a first-generation American with parents born in Cuba and Colombia and grandparents born in Poland, for Rydz making and sharing food in times of celebration and mourning are connected to people and places of the past who link us with those of the present.
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