The Art of Holding Radical Dinner Parties

Meet studio art major Sherry Xinyue Chiang.

September 22, 2022

Hometown: Castro Valley, California

Thesis adviser: Prof. Gerri Ondrizek [art]

Thesis: “What We Want, What We Need: Community Solidarity, Diaspora, and Resistance as Immigrants”

What it’s about: I examine the radical resistance of preparing and serving meals to immigrants and refugee families in the United States and how relational aesthetics combat narratives of isolation and exploitation as a result of Western Imperialism. Drawing on ideas of horizontality and the transmigrational experiences of people of color, I explore the act of spoken conversation and food as acts of cultural modes of production and the phenomenon of subversively existing. 

What it’s really about: Holding two dinner parties where I can be in conversation with immigrants and children of immigrants about the reasons we are here, the challenges we face, and the recognition of our resilience.

In high school: I was intensely focused on school and producing art on every notebook, wall, or pizza box I could get my hands on!

Influential book: Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga presents nuanced considerations of Zimbabwe/Rhodesia in the transition period around white minority rule. 

Influential class: Race and the Politics of Decolonization with Prof. Radhika Natarajan [history] gave me the language to talk about complex issues surrounding race and racial divisions and introduced powerful thoughts about how colonial privilege manifests in our modern society.

Concept that blew my mind: Much inequity is created and intentionally institutionalized so that the oppression can continue in future generations.

Cool stuff: Zumba classes, the Multicultural Resource Center, and tutoring middle school and high school students.

Help along the way: I am extremely grateful for the substantial financial aid provided by Reed. Further acknowledgment is needed that higher education and the ability to afford a private school degree is a privilege based on generations of class- and race-based oppression.

How Reed changed me: It allowed me to find intimacy with friends and community in a way I have never felt before.

What’s next: Pursuing a creative career while working within communities and  historically marginalized populations.