On March 16, 2023, multidisciplinary artist Genevieve Gaignard, a spring 2023 resident fellow at the Lunder Institute for American Art, and Jon Gray, multidisciplinary curator and co-founder of the culinary collective Ghetto Gastro joined Lunder Institute director Erica Wall for a conversation about their artistic practice.
As longtime friends and colleagues, Gaignard and Gray each work in their own ways to “Change the Conversation,” seeking to shift social and historical narratives around such subjects as race and identity through innovation across mediums.
Jon Gray is a curator, entrepreneur, and co-founder of the Bronx-born culinary collective Ghetto Gastro. Gray aims to shift social narratives, blending a background in fashion to create immersive experiences, product design, and unique storytelling. From Co-Op City, Gray’s mother and grandmother taught him about the arts and challenged him to innovate as a way of life. When a rebellious adolescence almost put him behind bars, Gray used the experience to imagine a greater vision for himself. Inventorying his passions and pastimes, he made Bronx-driven gastro-diplomacy his career and mission.
In 2019, Gray delivered his noteworthy TED Talk, “The next big thing is coming from the Bronx, again.” Gray is a Civic Practice Partnership Artist in Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2021, he served as guest curator at the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, where “Jon Gray of Ghetto Gastro Selects” featured an Afrofuturist theme. He is an avid art collector and people connector.
Genevieve Gaignard (b.1981) is a multidisciplinary artist who uses self-portraiture, collage, sculpture, and installation to elicit dialogue around the intricacies of race, beauty, and cultural identity. Referencing regional and historical events, as well as a personal archive as a biracial woman, Gaignard creates environments that teeter between symbolic and autobiographical realms. She cleverly interrogates notions of skin privilege while challenging viewers to look more closely at racial realities. The ensemble of her work shatters viewers’ perceptions of culture and race, compelling them to piece together novel ways of perceiving the world and their place in it.
Since 2019, Gaignard has debuted six solo exhibitions and participated in numerous countrywide group shows. Last year, she presented two solo exhibitions: To Whom it May Concern with Rowan University Art Gallery and Strange Fruit with Vielmetter Los Angeles. Gaignard’s work has appeared at: The Broad, CA; The Nerman Museum, KS; Stephen Friedman Gallery, UK; The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, TX; The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, DC; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; The Getty Center, CA; The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, MA; and Prospect.4, LA. In July 2022, Gaignard partnered with Orange Barrel Media on Look At Them Look At Us: a permanent, site-specific public art installation in downtown Atlanta. Gaignard received her bachelor of fine arts in photography from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and her master of fine arts in photography from Yale University. She splits her time between her hometown of Orange, Mass, and Los Angeles.