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Columbia College Chicago
Artists in Residence

Artists in Residence

Welcome to Potluck: Chicago

Potuck: Chicago

The Potluck is a creative community building project, which lifts its name from the custom of a collective meal to which everyone brings a dish. It's about conversations, share of creative tools, an inclusive exploration of community and “creative placemaking” in cities, like Chicago, which are increasingly pluralistic. 

The Potluck has been initially imagined by London based international arts company motiroti, as the 2011–2012 Critical Encounters artists-in-residence at Columbia College Chicago. Alongside Columbia, a range of partners joined the project early on to contribute ideas and planning - including The Dorchester Project, the En Las Tablas Performing Arts Centre and the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum. The Southside Hub of Production and Inspiration Kitchens also came on board, further extending our work and vision.

Together, we offered food and culture sharing workshops as an invitation to bring people from Chicago's diverse communities around the table in new ways, to exchange ideas and develop new relationships. 

hull house
Our workshop began with an historic breakfast at Jane Addams Hull HoUSE
The Potluck is a flexible, participant-centered process that responds to the common interests of the network and communities involved, developing new skill sets, prototyping innovative works in public spaces in the city, and producing materials and creative campaigns.
The fun began in November of 2011 when we convened a series of Open Space Technology-style gatherings across the sites in the city that this network enables us to access. 
ccc potluck
Referencing the parable of "Stone Soup," Columbia College contributed literal and metaphoric ingredients to our community.

Our activities then expanded to include serving “stone soup” to over 125 guests and crafting sock puppet avatars with children from the Humboldt Park neighborhood.


At each event, we invited participants to offer their thoughts and ideas around a guiding question such as "How can we harness the city's diversity for the common good?" or “What strength do you bring to the table?”

The responses fueled further discussion and desire to connect.


Above: En Las Tablas Performing Arts Center (left); MEETING WITH DORCHESTER PROJECTs NEIGHBORS (right)

Below: theaster gates of Dorchester Projects explains his community vision.

  neighbors  house   

In February, we re-assembled, adding new participants to our collective, launching Be Our Guest, Be Our Host, an initiative seeking to bring diverse people together to strengthen community and share sustenance.


Participants at Inspiration Café Potluck (left); Potluck Plate Invitations (middle) distributed at exhibition opening (right) 

Our process became motiroti’s contribution to the touring exhibition FEAST: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art. This interactive work incorporates our guiding questions about food, 
self, and society reflecting our differences, commonalities, and connections.




Our piece first asks viewers to share their comfort food. Then we asked what small acts could change their community. The answers are incorporated into the work, and will serve as catalysts for future projects.

As Potluck: Chicago moves forward, we hope to begin to build a new network of grassroots creative activism that will be of lasting value to the city, and a model that can be adopted elsewhere.  For more information, please see our blog, 
and follow us on Twitter (@plchicago). group shot

Check out what workshop participants are saying here!

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Download the press release here.


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