Throughout the pandemic, Reimagine has been hosting vigils to hold space for all we've had to let go. Just by attending, you are making an implicit statement to yourself and to the world: I am willing to face and embrace the hardest parts of life, and I'm willing to do it with love.
At tonight's vigil we especially honor the life of the dearly departed Mrs. Annie Jean Cowan, the mum of four-star chef and author Madison Cowan who credits her as the guiding force towards a career in food and his mission to promote healthy eating. He writes, "She chose me, luved me unconditionally, challenged and educated me. She gave me the vision to see, and courage to become. She imparted her faith and wisdom, and endowed me with strength. She was compassionate, creative, empathetic, forgiving, generous, open-minded, savvy, and sincere. She was my greatest inspiration. I have always been, and will forever remain, Annie Jean's son." Award-winning filmmaker Kirsten Johnson will interview Madison as they explore the role of food in grief, caregiving, healing, and legacy. In addition, Rev. Dr. Damaris D. Whittaker and pianist Chris Whittaker of Fort Washington Collegiate Church will share reflections and music inspired by food justice and mutual aid during the pandemic.
Whether it’s part of a sacred ritual or a warm casserole gifted to a neighbor after a funeral, food is an important thread in the tapestry of mourning and remembering. Join us as we reflect on this more-than-year-long period of illness and death arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, and ways that eating and sharing food has helped us navigate loss together.
Madison Cowan, four-star chef, keynote speaker and author, is the first ever Chopped Grand Champion, an Iron Chef winner, and star of No Kitchen Required. Madison currently appears as a judge on Beat Bobby Flay and will be featured in the new season of Tournament of Champions.
Madison advocates globally on behalf of the Alzheimer’s Association in its quest to cure the dementia related disease, and has joined former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Chefs Move To Schools initiative, which creates partnerships for professional chefs and public schools nationwide with the goal of solving childhood obesity within their communities by collaboratively educating children about food and healthy choices.
Kirsten Johnson’s previous film, Cameraperson—named to the New York Times' "top 10 films of 2016"—premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was shortlisted for an Academy Award. Her short The Above premiered at the 2015 New York Film Festival and was nominated for the IDA Documentary Award for Best Short. Her camerawork appears in Academy Award winner Citizen Four, Academy Award nominee The Invisible War, and Cannes Film Festival award winner Fahrenheit 9/11. In her newest film on Netflix, Dick Johnson is Dead, a cameraperson seeks a way to keep her 86-year-old father alive forever. Utilizing moviemaking magic and her family’s dark humor, she celebrates Dr. Dick Johnson’s last years by staging fantasies of death and beyond. Together, dad and daughter confront the great inevitability awaiting us all. The film was awarded Sundance’s Special Jury Award for Innovation in Nonfiction Filmmaking, two 2020 Critics Choice Documentary Awards, and the Cinema Eye Honors Outstanding Achievement in Direction.
Rev. Dr. Damaris D. Whittaker
Rev. Whittaker is a United Church of Christ (UCC) minister. She is the first woman to serve Fort Washington Collegiate Church and the first Latina to serve The Collegiate Churches of New York in their 400-year history. Her personal faith journey has been diverse. She has a spirit-led style of preaching and leads worship services that are reflective of the cultural diversity of her congregations. She preaches in English and Spanish. Dr. Whittaker is a public theologian deeply passionate about social justice advocating for racial justice, LGBTQ equality, immigration reform, women’s leadership, universal healthcare, and affordable housing. Dr. Whittaker believes she has been called to break down silos and sees intersectionality of faith as a place she can affect change. When not in church, she loves reading, dancing, gardening, kayaking and walking/jogging. Dr. Whittaker is originally from Humacao, Puerto Rico and is married to Sabas Whittaker.
Chris Whittaker is Music Director at Fort Washington Collegiate Church. A composer, conductor, and pianist from York, PA, Chris’s musical language of jazz, classical, and gospel melds genres and brings people together. As a composer, Chris’s music has been performed and broadcast throughout the United States. He is the co-founder and Music Director of the Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra, a non-profit organization committed to engaging the community through free concerts and educational programming. He also serves as the founding Music Director of Marble Collegiate Church’s “Jazz Revelation” worship service.