Event—Public Programming

Sabor y Arte: Exploring Mexican Heritage through Food and Art

In this delicious event, we'll explore the connections between food, art, and identity.

This program will be held in-person at the Newberry.

Share a meal while discussing how Mexican heritage is expressed through food, both on the table and in visual art. This program will focus on foods frequently depicted in 20th-century Mexican artworks, such as mole, watermelon, and corn, and will encourage conversation about the connections between food, art, and identity. 

Pollo en Mole
Mexican Style Rice
Refried Beans
Poblano Veggie Mix
Chips & Molcajete Salsa
Corn tortillas
Beverages: Agua de Sandia and Horchata

Artist Alberto Aguilar, chef Zach Steen, and art historian Lesley Wolff will explore the social and political stakes of the visuality of Mexican food in a nation whose celebrated cuisine has been inscribed as Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. 

Our thanks to the young artists from the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago's Teen Creative Agency, who designed, created, and hand-printed the three zines distributed free at this event: "Watermelon," "Corn," and "Molé." In preparation they visited the Newberry to examine relevant collection materials and participated in a molé-making workshop with one of the event speakers, Alberto Aguilar.


Alberto Aguilar is a Chicago-based artist whose work has been exhibited at the National Museum of Mexican Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Queens Museum, Nelson-Atkins Museum, Minneapolis Institute of Art, and Art Institute of Chicago. He teaches at Harold Washington College.

Zach Steen,has been a Chicago restaurant back-of-house mainstay for the last 16 years. After spending 4 years at Frontera back in 2009, Chef Steen traveled and worked in the Caribbean and Central America before returning to Chicago to Sous-chef at Brindelle and the Blanchard before his return to work with Chef Rick Bayless at Topolobampo (one Michelin star). At Topolo, Chef Steen rose from sous chef to chef de cuisine, leading the team to the coveted Outstanding Restaurant James Beard Award in 2017. As Culinary Director, Zach has led the way since at Bayless’ restaurants, pioneering new methods of equitable management and efficient operating procedures to pave the way towards a better future for restaurant culture. Even in the throws of the Pandemic, Chef Steen worked closely with Chef Bayless to keep his classic Chicago restaurants afloat and continuously creative despite the circumstances.

Lesley A. Wolff, PhDis Assistant Professor of Art and Design at The University of Tampa, specializing in modern and contemporary global art history and museum studies. Her interdisciplinary research on Latinx and Latin American art and food has appeared in various international publications, including Food, Culture & Society and Gender & History. Wolff is co-editor of the forthcoming anthology Nourish and Resist: Food and Feminisms in Contemporary Global Caribbean Art (Yale University Press, February 2024). Her monograph on food and art in postrevolutionary Mexico City, Culinary Palettes: Heritage as Food in Postrevolutionary Mexican Art, is slated to be published in 2025 (University of Texas Press). Wolff is also an active curator committed to revisionist histories of the art of the Americas. Her latest exhibition, The Kingdom of This World Reimagined, a contemporary art exhibition responding to the global impact of the Haitian Revolution, is currently on view in Pittsburgh, PA, through March 2024.

Cost and Registration

This program is free and open to all, but space is limited and only those who register in advance will be admitted.

Registration opens November 1.

Register Now

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