"a series of small gestures" #6 at the Smart Museum of Art: "Red ones" by Brandon Sward

Feb 16, 2021

The Smart Museum of Art
proudly presents 

a series of small gestures

A University of Chicago student engagement program designed and managed by Aaron Wilder

"gesture" #6, February 16, 2021:

Red ones
by Brandon Sward, PhD Student in Sociology


a series of small gestures, a student engagement program inspired by the Smart Museum of Art's exhibition Take Care and sponsored by the Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry is now in its 6th week. For each of the ten weeks of the University of Chicago's Winter Quarter 2021, we will be featuring a short video meditating on the theme of care by a University of Chicago student on both the Smart Museum’s Instagram and website.

Week six of a series of small gestures features a video by Sociology PhD student Brandon SwardRed ones: “’Red ones’ is what my maternal grandmother calls red enchiladas. There’s always a pot of red enchilada sauce on the stove at my grandparents’ house, in various stages of heating up or cooling down, offered to anyone who happens to walk through the door. During lockdown, I’ve been thinking about the comfort of food, not only as literal nourishment, but also spaces like the kitchen and table as sites of conversation, storytelling, and intergenerational contact. In ‘Red ones,’ my grandmother teaches me how to make the dish. Through this ‘first-person’ perspective, I intend to express the feeling of interacting with my grandmother, the matriarch of my mother’s family. As a queer biracial person, I have a deeply ambivalent relationship with the intersections of caregiving and gender/race, which for me parallels the role of the narrator as simultaneously present and absent: a voice and two hands, but nothing else.”

About a series of small gestures:

Inspired by the Smart Museum of Art’s exhibition Take Care, the Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry invited University of Chicago students to submit proposals for short videos reflecting on the questions of how we care for ourselves and each other.

Through each of the ten weeks of Winter Quarter 2021, a student’s video reflecting on the theme of care will be “released” on the Smart Museum’s Instagram account. Over the course of the quarter, each of these ten “small gestures” of care will be accumulated on the Smart Museum of Art's website with information about the student and a short description of their project.

Student proposals were reviewed by a panel of jurors comprising the following Smart Museum staff: 

  • Nicole Bond, Lead Museum Educator who has created and led educational programs for a variety of audiences with many exhibitions at the Smart Museum, including Take Care;
  • Jennifer Carty, Associate Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art, who co-curated the exhibition Take Care;
  • Berit Ness, Assistant Curator of Academic Initiatives, who co-curated the exhibition Take Care;
  • Erik Peterson, Manager of Family Programs & Student Engagement, who works with University of Chicago students through many co-curricular programs including the Smart Museum’s Student Advisory Committee;
  • and Aaron Wilder, Academic Engagement Coordinator, who works with University of Chicago students through the various internship programs at the Smart Museum as well as through academic programs sponsored by the Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry, such as a series of small gestures.

In addition to the jurors above, this project is heavily indebted to critical contributions made by:

  • Aneesah Ettress, Curatorial & Academic Engagement Intern;
  • Issa Lampe, Deputy Director for Academic & Curatorial Affairs and Director of the Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry;
  • C.J. Lind, Associate Director of Communications;
  • and Yue “Cherry” Ying, Academic Engagement Undergraduate Research Associate.

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