Adele 이슬 Kenworthy

Adele 이슬 Kenworthy

performance, fruit, community organizing
Smithsonian Summer  Saturday || June 22, 2024

We Should Talk:
National Museum of Asian Art
Washington, D.C.

For many Asian/Asian American families, fruit is shared as an act of love in abundance, often present at a child’s first birthday celebration in Korea, called a doljanchi; given in oversized boxes as housewarming gifts; and placed at altars for even our ancestors to enjoy. 

And in our transnational and intergenerational cultural memory, CUT FRUIT/과일깍자!  asks what can spacializing love look like for generations to come? For me, it was my mother cutting fruit for us when I was a kid.

Instead of price per pound signs, CUT FRUIT/과일깍자!  invites us to carry the questions asked between the peels and slices:

what is the first taste you can remember?
what is something you always wished someone had asked and knew about you?
what fruit carries your favorite memories?
who is allowed to gather?
who is allowed rest?

You can learn more about this project at

This project is the third installment of the We Should Talk series, created by Philippa Pham Hughes, Adele Yiseol Kenworthy, and Xena Ni. We Should Talk received Federal support from the Asian Pacific American Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, and the American Women’s History Initiative Pool, administered by the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum.

flowers, community organizing

Museum Square Blooms
Chinatown Park 
I St NW, Washington, DC 

There are less than 300 Chinese residents remaining in DC’s Chinatown, many of them our elders and many of them facing active displacement. When Chinatown Arts Studio invited me to join their efforts to #savemuseumsquare without hesitation I said yes.

So much of my work in the last few years think a lot about what happens during occupation and war and what gestures and rituals we hold as places of comfort. And so the idea of home for me is more about how do I carry the memories of geographic longing that belong to my parents, how do I carry the ones that belong to me, and how do I carry both at the same time.

As the fight to preserve the history of Chinatown DC continues by protecting the remaining living residents now, instead of this practice of asking Where are you from? Where are you really from? What is your name? What is your real name?

We can ask:
Where do you claim? What claims you?
How do you carry memories of home?
How do you long to be remembered?
Whose stories do you carry?

Thank you to the organizers for doing the real work, for the opportunity to witness and support, and for believing art and flowers can nourish movements like this. 

Immense gratitude for the floral support from Flowers By MJ. 

Visit to learn more.

performance, found and foraged flowers, photographs

what is something you always wished I asked and knew about you?
NEXT 2022
Corcoran School of Art & Design 
Washington, D.C.

In the height of lockdown and grief during the pandemic, I stumbled across an obscure floral arrangement book written by a Korean florist in the 90s. 

In this book she states that the origin of this practice of floral arranging — which is widely attributed to Japan as ikebana — is appropriated from the Korean practice of kong yong hwa, placing flowers at the feet of Buddha.

This led me to have an interesting conversation with a researcher and scholar who justifiably asked if is this verifiable. and as I dove deeper into this question, another one emerged for me, what memories is this florist carrying that called her to say that in the first place?

Do I need to reconcile the memories I’ve inherited with the memories of the colonizer?

what is something you always wished i had asked and knew about you? is a question I’ve continued to ask my umma as we’ve both grown older, each decade emerging a new answer.

The family photos in this series was a gift from my appa after 18 years of estrangement. His silent act of hanging onto a memory of us. The photos were all taken by my umma and exist as evidence my body was present even in the absence of my own memories.

These cocoji floral sculptures and the last few remaining photos from my family archive are the artifacts in our intergenerational, transnational struggle to remember.

performance, fruit, collage, community organizing
August 10 – August 20, 2022

to carry within us an orchard
E19: Artistic Interventions
Transformer Gallery
Washington, D.C.

to carry within us an orchard was developed during my time as part of Transformer’s 19th year of their Exercises for Emerging Artists program. 

what is the first taste you can remember?

to carry within us an orchard, a line from Li Young Lee’s From Blossoms, is a poem that celebrates community at every point of connection. As a first generation American with immigrant parents – in all the language and cultural divides that separated us – this exhibition explores the embodied gestures and rituals of care that fill the silences between us.  In this space of transnational cultural memory, as a femme presenting Asian American, Kenworthy brings cut fruit to Transformer as an intervention in this country’s landscape of care as a commodity.

The exhibition included the artist daily returning to the gallery to cut fruit for vistors; a cut fruit circle+community organizing workshop for AAPI femme artists based in the DC metro area; and a collage series that included photo submissions from the public, the artist’s family archive, and found historical images. 

You can learn more about the exhibition at

flowers, community organizing
Let Ivy City Bloom
Ivy City 
Kendall St NE between Okie and Galludet Streets 
Washington, D.C. 

I partnered with the ANC Commissioner Sebrena Rhodes, community organizing nonprofit Empower DC, and floral design team Sweet Root Village to create a pop-up park in Ivy City as a peaceful protest to reclaim the Crummell School grounds and prototype for a flourishing public green space.

The pop-up park included over 3,000 flower stems and over 1,300 sq ft of sod within a neighborhood block party.

A few weeks after our community gathering, Mayor Bowser announced she would include $20 million in her budget to restore the Crummell School into a community center.

You can learn more about our ongoing collaborative relationship at

Adele Yiseol Kenworthy