The Vietnamese edition of The People's Pantry is a collaboration between myself and Catherine Thy Phạm, a Chicago-based chef, advocate, and writer, among other things.
Cat is Vietnamese-American – her parents came to Chicago as refugees in the early 80s, a harrowed journey that is all too common for families from countries where US war and violence has done so much damage. Growing up in Chicago as a first-generation Vietnamese-American, Cat's journey has been complex, and she speaks about it often in hopes that telling her truths will bring awareness to the ignorant and solace to those who share in her experiences.
Today, Cat is an outspoken advocate, sharing her stories using both food and words as her medium. An avid party thrower with an abundance of food, like many Asian moms and aunties, she took her meals on the road at the start of the pandemic, as “Drops,” telling stories through traditional Vietnamese dishes and celebrating her heritage while also bringing awareness to the multitude of issues that immigrants, refugees, and their children in the United States face.
$20 from every print sold will be donated to the Vietnamese Association of Illinois, a non-profit whose mission is to support, promote & develop various cultural, social, and educational programs to serve Vietnamese-Americans in Illinois.
11" x 14" Risograph art print, printed on 65# cream stock. Each art print will come as a signed, numbered edition. Printed in the USA.
The People's Pantry is a project that explores immigration through food. You could say that food is one of the foundations of culture – everyone's gotta eat, and often the most approachable way to share culture is through cuisine. But food is something that so many of us take for granted. The availability of "American staples" like ketchup, Wonderbread, potato chips, and the like are almost a given at any American supermarket. For many immigrants, refugees, and their families, however, finding the products we grew up with is a taller order. We do not see these products lining the shelves of our local Safeway or Cub, but instead in the family-owned specialty markets tucked away in cities across the country. Depending on where you live, these sauces or snacks or seasonings can sometimes feel like rarities – elusive products that you have to make a special trip for, but the comforts they bring are immeasurable.
The People's Pantry began as a way to illustrate the foods that I grew up with in my Filipino-American household. But everyone who is part of a diaspora has their own version of this illustration. With this series, I hope to capture some of those stories by partnering with individuals who have their own unique relationships with the foods of their cultural heritage. $20 from the purchase of each print in The People's Pantry collection is donated to the non-profit of my collaborator's choosing.
"Risograph is a print process which combines the best of digital and traditional print: a hand-made look and feel with the speed and efficiency of a modern printer. Risograph ink is made from a combination of environmentally friendly soy oil, water and pigment, the prints are reminiscent of newspaper ink and it is possible to smudge the ink. Riso is like screen printing in that each ink color is layered on separately. A single piece of paper will run through our machines several times for multi-color projects and the overlap of colors can be irregular." – Risolve Studio