All posts by rituprasad2017

A way back home: Art as recovery for rape victims in Chicago

by Ritu Prasad

At first, the photographs seem unremarkable—a pair of well-worn shoes, a flannel shirt, gray sweatpants.

Floating on a black background, hung on a clean white wall, these 12 photographs show what 12 rape victims wore at the time of their assault.

The series, titled “Well, What Were You Wearing?” by Katherine Cambareri, offers a simple yet poignant look into the realities of rape.

Cambareri Wall
A line of dark photos on a bare wall: the images are moving because of how ordinary they are. Many are items anyone could have worn, regardless of gender. (Ritu Prasad/MEDILL)

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Chicago Feminists Create Spaces for Art and Activism

by Ritu Prasad

On the corner of Cortland and Richmond in Logan Square sits an unassuming house. This is the new home of The Overlook Place, a studio and residency program dedicated to giving women artists, queer artists, and artists of color a space to create and be heard.

Jennifer Fagan, Overlook’s founder, explained how the art world’s hierarchical culture motivated her to found her own art space.

“There’s women’s art, queer art, there’s black art, and then there’s the art that gets shown, which is not any of that,” Fagan said. “I wanted to create spaces for all this art but not have it pigeonholed as ‘this’ art.”
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14 Food Photos That Show What Diversity Tastes Like

by Ritu Prasad

Lakeview restaurant Southport and Irving (SIP) kicked off the first dinner in their Unity and Diversity series on February 23. Inspired by the melting pot of America itself, owner Vivek Sehgal hopes to bring people together over the things we love, universally: our mother’s cooking, our grandmother’s recipes, our family’s traditions. The inaugural dinner featured Berta Navarro as the grandmother-in-charge, showcasing her own grandmother’s recipes and traditional dishes from her home state of Jalisco, Mexico.

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The stories behind the scenes: racism and sexism in Chicago theater

By Ritu Prasad

When I flip through my old journals, where I first began experimenting with storytelling, none of my characters look like me. Even as I can hear myself in their voices, I can see my insecurities in their descriptions: blue eyes, the opposite of mine; blonde hair, the opposite of mine; pale skin that is nothing like mine.

Growing up in suburban North Carolina meant that frequently, I was the only nonwhite person in the room. I was an anomaly, idealizing myself on paper by writing myself as white. It was only in high school that I recognized my own erasure and began fighting against the norms I had internalized.

The 10 women of Collaboraction’s newest production, ‘Gender Breakdown,’ tell tales of gender disparity in Chicago theater, but their stories resonate with anyone who has ever felt out of place in their own skin. If they had included every individual story, the show would be 91 million seconds long (that’s nearly three years). As the lights dim, the actors implore: “A theater is a place for seeing. See this.”

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It takes generations: the women, men, and children of Chicago’s Women’s March

by Ritu Prasad

Sharpies, construction paper, pastries, and plenty of coffee were spread invitingly across two tables at the Women & Children First Bookstore. When the doors opened at 8 a.m. sharp on Saturday morning, there was already a line of people ready to make signs and socialize before the Women’s March on Chicago.

Nineteen-year-old Alivia Heuer, a freshman at Northeastern Illinois University, was one of the first to arrive. She took to the supplies with purpose.

“I honestly think that instead of trying to rebel against the current administration we should try to protect those who might be adversely affected,” Heuer said while filling in the large bubbled letters of her sign with red sharpie. “So that’s why I’m writing love is greater than hate.”

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Chicago feminists critical of Obama, conflicted over Trump

By Ritu Prasad

For many involved with grassroots feminism in Chicago, Barack Obama’s presidency wasn’t all it was promised to be. Feminist leaders now look to the  Donald Trump administration with a conflicting sense of apprehension and tentative hope.

At the Women & Children First bookstore, seated beneath a colorful collection of children’s books with titles like “A is for Activism” and “Happy in Our Skin,” organizers from the LGBT/women-focused Masjid al-Rabia and FURIE, or Feminist Uprising to Resist Inequality and Exploitation,  discussed their ongoing work and future goals in light of Trump’s victory
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