Project Onward Helps Disabled Express Their Art

By Vishakha Darbha William Douglas has been creating art since he was a child. But unlike other children, he stayed away from the company of people. As someone who battles social anxiety, Douglas found a haven in Project Onward, a not-for-profit studio and gallery for artists with physical and developmental disabilities. [vimeo 167960801 w=474] Video: […]

Flash: An intercultural conversation between Butoh and Hip-Hop

By Vishakha Darbha Interdisciplinary artist Michael Sakamoto is one half of Flash, a Butoh/Hip-Hop duet performed with street-dance choreographer Rennie Harris. The show, which played at Columbia College Dance Theatre earlier this month, examines the body as a state of crisis. But for Sakamoto and Harris, Flash is also a public conversation between Butoh and Hip-Hop, and between their […]

Indian Museum rises out of neglected neighborhood of Johannesburg

By Vishakha Darbha Salma Patel walked through the two spacious rooms in her museum in Johannesburg, pointing to the black and white pictures lining the creamy walls. Each framed photo depicted moments from a bygone period, illuminating the story of a multi-racial community and its  Indian bazaar that fought against eviction on racial grounds. Patel […]

Palestinian music director conducts Persian Concert for packed house

Waneez Zarour directing the Middle East Music Ensemble

By Vishakha Darbha and Hannah Gebresilassie Emotional, passionate and a musical genius are just a few words used to describe Wanees Zarour. Born and raised in Ramallah, Palestine, director and composer Zarour leads the Middle East Music Ensemble at the University of Chicago, which was established in 1997. His “Persian Concert” at the Reva and […]

Cantonese opera strikes a chord in Chinatown

Performer in the Cantonese Opera

By Vishakha Darbha The Chicago Public Library hosts a Cantonese opera every Wednesday and Saturday, performed by the Zhaoqiu Chinese American ART Center. Opened last August, Chinatown has seen a growth in the number of new institutions, including a Park District Field House. Chicago invested $19 Million in building the library. It is designed by […]

Buna: The Art of Making Ethiopian Coffee

Ethiopian Coffee ceremony cups

By Hannah Gebresilassie and Vishakha Darbha Most college students use coffee to survive long nights and tedious assignments, but in Ethiopia and Eritrea, coffee means much more than that. Ethiopia, globally known as the birthplace of coffee, is famous for “buna,” a coffee-making ceremony that involves roasting, grinding and brewing beans while partaking in a […]

A tale of two schools on protest day

Teachers, parents and children stand in front of Saucedo Scholastic Academy as they rally against budget cuts

By Vishakha Darbha and Bian Elkhatib T eachers, parents and students gathered across the city Wednesday to protest Chicago Public Schools’ budget cuts. The Chicago Teachers Union helped organize the demonstrations in nearly 200 schools, demanding more funding for teachers and extra-curricular activities. Other issues included smaller classrooms and a decrease in standardized tests. Medill […]

Moody Bible student embraces his Dalit roots to help others

Children in Class at a Good Shepherd School

By Vishakha Darbha When he was 12, Abishek Jonathan visited his ancestral village in Tamil Nadu, India, and was disheartened to learn that his relatives were denied permission to build a church. The reason: being a “Dalit,” or an untouchable. Jonathan heard about the case of Dalit Research Scholar Rohith Vemula committing suicide Jan 17 […]

An art piece is worth “34,000 Pillows”

By Vishakha Darbha Alejandro Figueredo Diaz-Perera watched over the makeshift sewing studio at Soul Asylum, an art exhibition focusing on immigrant stories of struggle. Perera is one half of an artist duo, with Cara Megan Lewis. Together, they call themselves Diaz Lewis. At Soul Asylum, their interactive artwork is titled “34,000 Pillows,” inspired by the […]

Immigrants express a different reality on abortion rights

Abortion Rights March

By Vishakha Darbha Standing amid a sea of posters that proclaimed “My body, My Choice,” Loreen Targos recalled a story her mother had narrated to her about abortion in Taiwan. Her mother’s friend did not want to have a sixth child, and lost her life in a desperate attempt to get an illegal abortion.