Tag Archives: Chicago

War Baby/Love Child comes to DPAM

30 Apr

Originally published in The DePaulia, April 29, 2013.


Organizing curator Laura Kina leads a guided tour through the DPAM exhibit.

What are you? It’s a question people of mixed race have heard before, it’s a question without a very clear answer, but it’s also a question a new exhibit at the DePaul Art Museum is trying to answer.

War Baby/Love Child opened Thursday at the DePaul Art Museum and will run through June 30. The exhibit is co-curatedby Vincent DePaul Professor of Art, Media and Design Laura Kinaand San Francisco State University professor Wei Ming Dariotisand features the work of 19 artists, all of mixed race Asian-American descent.

The title for the exhibit, War Baby/Love Child, is a reference to a common stereotype regarding mixed race Asian Americans.

“I always wanted a t-shirt that said ‘War Baby’ on the front, and ‘Love Child’ on the back, because a lot of people would ask me, was your father in the military? Which is just a ridiculous question because we weren’t fighting a war in China in the late ’60s. But that image of the war baby is so strong, that that’s what people think of,” said Dariotis, who identifies as Greek, Swedish, English, Scottish, German, Dutch, Chinese-American.

The choice of title was controversial, with one gallery declining to show the exhibit because of the title.

“Art takes things that can be painful and transforms them into beautiful things,” said Dariotis. “We wanted to create something that people would be able to have not just an intellectual relationship with, but a passionate relationship.”

The exhibit features works from a variety of artistic styles and philosophies. One gallery features three works on similar subjects from very different perspectives.

Jenifer Wofford’s piece ‘MacArthur’s Nurses’ portrays a group of Filipino women walking through water. The piece references a staged photo of General Douglas MacArthur. Kip Fulbeck’s piece is a very straightforward photo portrait of a man, with the words “I am 100% Asian and 100% Black” written underneath in a rejection of the either/or mentality. Finally, a piece by Mequitta Ahuja features a woman’s head with a colorful explosion of culturally significant images emerging from it.

“So you see the three different approaches, one based on history and broader context , the self with a very straightforward portrait, and one that’s about the internal life,” said organizing curator Laura Kina.

For many of the artists, this exhibition is a unique experience.

“This is the first explicitly mixed race show I’ve been in, and it’s exciting,” said artist Chris Naka. “Being involved in this show makes me think about my own practice and how my identity and my work is affected by being mixed race”

For Native American and Korean-American artist Debra Yepa-Pappan, this exhibit is an opportunity to show her work in a new context.

“This is the first time I’ve displayed my work where the target audience wasn’t other Native Americans,” saidYepa-Pappan. “I’m really glad to see that I’m getting a lot of support from the Native American community. For those Native Americans that are mixed race, and a lot of them are, it’s important to realize that you don’t have to choose one side or the other. You don’t have to deny your non-native part.”

Kina is teaching an Honors Junior Multiculturalism Seminar at DePaul that explores the issues raised in this exhibit, guided by the accompanying book, which she and Dariotis co-wrote.

 “We’re always interested in a good hook in order to pose a question or make an argument through our exhibits,” said DePaul Art Museum Director Louise Lincoln. “And particularly with this show it’s good because it’s an extension of Laura’s teaching function.”

The museum will be hosting a variety of events to accompany the exhibit, including a screening of the film, “The Woman, The Orphan, and the Tiger” by Danish artist Jane Jin Kaisen Monday, April 29 from 6-8 p.m.


My Kind of Town

3 Apr

Hello from the Windy City! It’s finally warm, sunny and wonderful Spring Quarter and I am SO ready to explore the city of Chicago to my heart’s content before I pack up and head for greener pastures for the summer. Having resisted the feeling of cabin fever while I was actually cooped up for the winter, I’m realizing retroactively how cooped up I actually was. This week has been 40s-50s and it has felt practically tropical.

On Thursday night, after my weekly dose of NBC sitcoms (reruns, unfortunately), I decided to officially ring in the new quarter with a walk down to the lake to take a look at the skyline from Fullerton Beach.

Sitting at the end of a practically empty Lake Shore trail, I was struck once again that I LIVE four blocks from… that. In fact, I live IN that. A big beautiful city where all kinds of big and little exciting things are happening. Over the past year and a half I have done a whole lot of exploring, but I still feel like I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg that is Chicago. I decided that this quarter I would make exploring new parts of the city a priority. It’s so easy to slide into a routine and forget to get out there and, well, you know: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLbWYHA5eUE&feature=related

So, wasting no time, I seized Saturday and did something I’ve been meaning to do for a while. In the fall, I picked up a copy of Time Out Chicago, Student Edition, which is a great listing of cheap, fun things to do in the city. They had a great series of articles on CTA city walks. The idea is, take the El to a stop, get off, follow the walking directions to landmarks, cool shops, little bistros and eventually back to another CTA stop. Brilliant! 1. Free 2. A perfect way to get to know a new neighborhood.

This week: The Gold Coast. The Fanciest Neighborhood of Them All. Red Line Clark/Division to Chicago.

The Gold Coast really is gorgeous. It’s a little bit nauseating to see 26 room, opulent mansions on prime real estate overshadowing areas of extreme poverty, but there is no denying that those 26 room mansions are beautiful to look at. C’est la vie, I suppose. Anyways, I really did love the walk. Tree-lined streets, beautiful architecture, and my handy-dandy page from Time Out Chicago to guide me. And perfect weather to boot! Here were some highlights.

The Charnley-Perksy House, an early collaboration between Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright

The Patterson-McCormick Mansion, designed by Stanford White a notorious womanizer who also designed Madison Square Gardens.

The Archbishop's Residence. Complete with 19 chimneys!!

Unfortunately, at this point my camera battery informed me that it was ‘exhausted’. So I don’t have pictures of the original Playboy mansion or Bernie Sahlin’s (cofounder of Second City) residence.

These were definitely the most imposing of the homes in the area, but really each building was something to see. The area has a very old-fashioned feel to it. I could just picture 19th century up-and-comers strolling down Astor Street, parasols and canes in hand. There was even one working torch-lit street lamp, which really set the mood.

After the residential tour I was lead down to the ritzy Oak Street shopping district. This is no ordinary mall. Think Prada, Harry Winston etc. very fancy schmancy. These are places I will only ever window shop. Although I did make one key purchase, macaroons from a Sarah’s Chocolate shop. Delicious!

Oak Street leads right out to Lake Shore, so I savored my chocolate macaroon as I strolled along beautiful blue Lake Michigan before turning down Chestnut through downtown to the Chicago stop (of course making a required stop at one of my favorite bookstores Europa Books, which is right off the El). All in all a fabulous day!

Alfred Caldwell: A Secret Garden in Lincoln Park

13 Sep

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I was walking to the lake on this fine September afternoon for some ‘homework on the beach’ (which turned into a 4 hour walk around the city!) when I happened upon a set of wooden doors that opened into some sort of greenery. Intrigued, I wandered in. Inside, I was pleasantly surprised to find- to steal a term from a set of Lincoln Park Zoo advertisements- an urban oasis! The central feature of this naturalized garden was medium sized lily pond lined with rectangular boulders and circled by all different, short, winding paths. Following one, I came to a round bench made of the same rectangular stone. On the far side of the lily pond was a wooden prairie style structure that united the pond’s sense of horizon with the vertical plants and grasses. I was simply delighted.

I had unknowingly stumbled upon Alfred Caldwell’s Lily Pool, and if you are ever on Fullerton right near the Lincoln Park Zoo, I would highly suggest a little peek in. It’s always surprising how even in the middle of the city, people make an effort to bring back some sense of the natural world.

Here’s what the Chicago Park District has to say about the pool:

Alfred Caldwell (1903-1998)

“Originally built in 1889 for raising tropical water lilies, the Lily Pool was redesigned in the prairie style during the 1930’s by    Alfred Caldwell. The landscape design of the Caldwell Lily Pool is a tribute to the natural ecology of the Midwest. It was originally designed to mimic a river formed by a melting glacier’s flow of water cutting through limestone. The stonework and paths have a natural look that conveys the interpretation that melted glacial water flows are cutting through moraines, creating dramatic limestone bluffs. A waterfall near the north end of the lily pool represents the source of this glacial river”

It’s not the most stunning or elaborate of parks- but it was a nice find on a beautiful day.

Home Sweet Apartment and Bon Voyage!

4 Sep

Greetings from Chicago, Illinois

Salutations from the Windy City! Today, I moved into my first real, honest-to-goodness apartment in my kind of town, Chicago, IL. What a step up from dorm life- this apartment was a stroke of luck if I ever had one. It is picture perfect, cozy- yet spacious, and of course comes complete with a lovely roommate! What more could a girl want.

So, after putting kitchen utensils in drawers, lightbulbs in sockets and other such move-in day activities, I finally was able to get down to business decorating my room. Posters, painted canvases (canvi?), plants, pillows (apparently I have a thing for P-words?)- so far so good. I’m still deciding where everything goes- but it’s shaping up quite nicely.

One thing I haven’t quite found a place for yet is my wall calendar- a 16 month vintage travel poster. Now, I love me some vintage anything and I love me some world travel anything. So, it’s perfect. Being more than a few months into 2010, I decided it was time to take a pair of scissors to the thing and make myself a series of tiny (6″ x 10″ish) travel posters. So, in honor of my move in, here’s a taste of my apartment decor with a few of my favorite vintage travel posters (the first three are from the calendar- the rest posters I wish were also in the calendar).

My favorite! This is featured in the center of my carefully constructed bulletin board (a key feature of any good bedroom). I love the colors!

Another French poster- are you noticing a trend? Regardless, this is very Gatsby.

Mmm, ok, this may be my favorite. I want to go to there.

My favorite colors!

Looking good Palestine!

Getting there is half the fun!

As usual, I could go on and on and on…love. it.

Reccommendation: The House on Mango Street

19 Feb


I love reading things that uncannilly echo the most personal of thoughts and articulate beautifully the ideas and emotions I grapple with myself- to some extent- The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros was one of those books.


It was the first book I checked out using my Chicago Public Library card. It caught my eye because I remembered seeing it featured as the ‘One Book One Chicago’ selection for Spring 2009 (). The bright turquiose and orange cover also caught my eye.

I started reading as I ate lunch. I identified immediately with Cisnero’s voice, tone and semantics. It is structured as a series of short 1-3 page vignettes surrounding Esperanza, a young Latina woman growing up in Chicago- following her search for cultural and personal identity through the lens of her unique worldview.

Be sure to read the introduction to understand more deeply the context of the novel from the perspective of the author.

“You live here…” she askes “alone?, “Yes”, “So…” she pauses, “How did you do it?”, “Norma, I did it by doing the things I was afraid of doing so that I would no longer be afraid, Moving away to go to graduate school. Traveling abroad alone. Earning my own money and living by myself.” (introduction)

“Mygreat-grandmother. I would’ve liked to have known her, a wild horse of a woman, so wild she wouldn’t marry. Until my great-grandfather threw a sack over her head and carried her off.  Just like that, as if she were a fancy chandelier. That’s the way he did it. And the story goes she never forgave him. She looked out the window her whole life, the way so many women sit their sadness on an elbow.”

“Your abuelito is dead, Papa says early one morning in my room. Esta muerto, and then as if he just heard the news himself, crumples like a coat and cries, my brave Papa cries. I have never seen my Papa cry and don’t know what to do…Because I am the oldest my father has told be and now it is my turn to tell the others. My Papa, his thick hand and thick shoes, who wakes up tied in the dark, who combs his hair with water, drinks his coffee and is gone before we wake, today is sitting on my bed. And I think if my own Papa died what I would do. I hold my Papa in my arms. I hold and hold and hold him.”

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