projects: Jon Gray of Ghetto Gastro Selects

Position: Curatorial Fellow at Cooper Hewitt

Exhibition | Jon Gray of Ghetto Gastro Selects (July 1, 2021 -February 13, 2022)

Jon Gray of Ghetto Gastro Selects is the 19th installation in the exhibition series that invites designers, artists, architects, and public figures to explore and interpret Cooper Hewitt’s collection of more than 215,000 objects. Cofounder of the creative collective and cooking advocacy group Ghetto Gastro, Jon Gray works at the intersection of food, culture, and the Bronx experience. Celebrated for his collaborative spirit, Gray extends his creative vision to projects ranging from product design and fashion to architecture and immersive culinary experiences.

Gray tells an Afrofuturist fictional narrative through chosen works from the collection and original drawings created by artist Oasa DuVerney. The exhibition brings to life the power of objects, endurance of their stories, and the fragility of the natural world. We learn that in 2022, a series of political, social, racial, and class revolutions have set the stage for a collapse of global power structures. A massive tsunami leaves the land of Manhattan and much of the United States submerged underwater. In the midst of chaos on the world power stage, the nations of the African continent flourish without foreign intervention and the African Assembly is founded. Over the next 40 years, the African Assembly works to repatriate cultural artifacts from the continent and fund exploratory recovery missions. Set in the year 2077, visitors will enter the lab of the young explorer àlá, one of the most revered recovery experts, who has built their own private collection of historical objects. On view will be more than 40 of àlá’s most treasured pieces, which are prized for the creative ingenuity of makers and designers from the distant past.

Acknowledgements: This exhibition was guest curated by Gray and organized for Cooper Hewitt by Associate Curator of Latino Design Christina De León, with curatorial fellow Carolyn Herrera-Perez.

Story by José Mejia. Art by Oasa DuVerney.

Exhibition design by Snøhetta. Graphic design by Kelly Sung.