Irina Zadov (she/her/they/them) is an artist, educator, and cultural organizer. A Soviet Jewish refugee, their practice disrupts state violence through creative resistance and healing. They facilitate intimate gatherings, public interventions, city-wide festivals, and international solidarity work centering youth, people of color, immigrants, refugees, and LGBTQAI+ communities. Irina is a student of adrienne maree brown and Mariame Kaba; their highest intention is to practice emergent strategy, abolition, and transformative justice within all aspects of their life.
In 2014, Irina co-founded Cities of Peace an initiative connecting young people in post-genocide Cambodia with youth organizing against Chicago’s legacies of police torture and racialized violence. Peace Fellows participated in an international exchange and created trauma-informed curriculum, a documentary film, and a city-wide teach-in series engaging youth workers and K-12 educators in curriculum around resistance, healing, and transformative memorializing. In 2012, Irina co-founded the Chicago Home Theater Festival, a city-wide collaboration addressing racial, economic, and social inequities through intimate meals, performances, and border crossing interventions in over 50 of Chicago’s hyper-segregated neighborhoods. Currently, they are a Senior Program Specialist at the Chicago Park District, where they cultivate Young Cultural Stewards and Queering the Parks which aims to create inclusive, joyful, and liberatory LGBTQAI+ space within an 85 year old municipal organization.
Irina’s public programming, education, and community engagement work has been featured in & co-created with: Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Hyde Park Art Center, Smart Museum of Art, National Museum of Mexican Art, DuSable Museum of African American History, South Side Community Art Center, Cambodian American Heritage Museum and Killing Fields, Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, Chicago Freedom School, Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, Cambodian Institute for Peace, AMFM, Englewood Line, The Floating Museum, and Grow Greater Englewood.
Irina has raised over $500,000 to fund cultural, racial, and social justice work through grants and awards from: American Alliance of Museums, Institute of Museum and Library Services, US Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Chicago Art Department, DHR Studios in The Hague, Propeller Fund, Puffin Foundation, Open Meadows Foundation, Chicago Park District, Terra Foundation for American Art, Illinois Humanities, Chicago Foundation for Women, Crossroads Fund, and Rockwood Leaders in Racial Justice and Human Right Institute.