Christina Sanchez is a socially and politically engaged artist working in the public sphere on projects that address social justice for underserved communities. Her discursive practice operates at the intersection of performance, community organizing, and popular education to investigate how collectivity and the arts can merge to acknowledge the issues of the working poor and bring about social change. In 2011 she co-founded the Break+Pausa project as a long-term, Los Angeles based artistic and culinary inquiry into the lives of immigrant restaurant workers. The Break+Pausa project has organized participatory performances in a wide variety of Southern California venues including the Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art, the Dignity at Darden picket line, Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, and the 2nd Los Angeles SUR: Biennial 2013. In 2013 she co-curated the exhibition Tequio Aquí, Tequio Allá at the William Grant Still Art Center. The exhibition brought together artists involved in examining the Oaxacan practice of tequio, a mutual aid tradition of compulsory community service. Christina is a member of TeAda Productions, a theatre company dedicated to the development and presentation of performances by people of color. The Otis College of Art and Design awarded Christina the inaugural Public Practice teaching fellowship in 2012. She holds a BA in Studio Art from San Francisco State University and an MFA (2012) in Public Practice from the Otis College of Art and Design.
Cocina Abierta is a nomadic experimental “test kitchen” that facilitates the fluid exchange of immigrant histories, culinary skills, and base building strategies, towards the development of a worker-centered philosophy to eating ethically. Just as a traditional test kitchen functions as a laboratory for the creation of new dishes, Cocina Abierta serves as a space of experimentation where we tests the limits of interpersonal boundaries, such as those that exist between foodies and low-wage workers, culinary graduates and fast food workers, and back of house and front of house workers.
Cocina Abierta uses the act of communal cooking and teaching as the methodology by which we gather restaurant workers and consumers into a space of dialogue. Through these exchanges we strive to provide a context for restaurant workers to develop the narratives that frame their experiences for the public. Cocina Abierta events are facilitated by a rotating collective of community chefs, including professional line cooks that have never stepped foot in a culinary school, chefs that are passionate about giving low-wage workers access to culinary training, and entrepreneurial immigrant home cooks equipped with ancestral culinary knowledge.
Cocina Abierta traverses Los Angeles taking up residence in both community and commercial kitchens, while expanding the definition of a test kitchen to include performative events which merge communal cooking, dining, and performance. Cocina Abierta’s collaborative partners include the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Los Angeles, a worker center that advocates for the needs of all Los Angeles restaurant workers, and TeAda productions, a theatre company focused on the development of performances by people of color.
Cocina Abierta is the work of an artist/community chef collaborative comprised of the artist Christina Sanchez and community chefs Cayetano Juarez and Oakland Bautista.