The Pittsburgh Foundation

Dominique Chestand

Dominique Chestand. Image credit: Rayni Shiring.
Dominique Chestand. Image credit: Rayni Shiring.

2023 grant amount: $50,000 over two years

This grant will go toward Broke Babe Supper Club (BBSC), a multimedia project that aims to increase knowledge and agency around food for Black, Global Majority and low-income people. Combining photography with digital storytelling and the art of gastronomy, BBSC focuses on minimizing the detrimental effects of food deserts and the cost-of-living crisis.

The project starts with a photograph of a single ingredient. The ingredient must be low cost, as well as a "food stamp staple" or produce item. The photograph does not focus on cooking or lecturing the viewer on health. Instead, each photograph in this series aims to tell a story about the food items that have enabled low-income people to survive. If the viewer chooses to do so, they can interact with the art by clicking a link or scanning a QR code that leads to more information about the ingredient and a low-cost recipe that requires minimal labor. 

This is a project that was started in 2018 with a social media account and a dinner event that was meant to display the vibrancy of low-cost vegan food, without the judgement or sense of superiority that is usually associated with veganism and vegetarianism. The goal is not to pressure anyone into a specific diet, but to demonstrate that there are options for diversifying what we eat, if we choose to do so.

"Ironically, the project was short-lived because of my own challenges with poverty," she says. "I was not able to financially support the project, nor did I have the time or capacity to execute projects outside of work. Fortunately, my life has stabilized enough for me to consider a second and more expanded installment of this project. This installment would include research on food resources and culinary techniques, a relaunch of the digital platform, an exhibition, a public art series and three interactive events in Pittsburgh."

 Chestand is a multimedia visual and performing artist who seeks to bring the experiences of Black, queer women to the forefront. The center of her ideal vision for thriving in the arts and culture ecosystem is community and the building of community resources.

"As an artist who has experienced hunger in its most literal form, I understand that communities cannot create if they do not eat," she says. "That is why this project is so important to me. It is also why I see gastronomy as an important art form that, unfortunately, is frequently reserved for the rich. Through this project, I seek to change that."