'Art of Inclusion' committee forms in Naperville
It began with an online petition seeking to diversify a mural in downtown Naperville, and now it's grown into a committee aiming to create new art.
What started as Downers Grove resident Tyler Marcus' petition to improve what he referred to as "The Wall of Exclusion in Downtown Naperville" now has turned into the Art of Inclusion Steering Committee, a 16-member group working toward projects, short-term and long, to reflect "the diversity of Naperville and promote unity and inclusion in our community."
The steering committee formed during the past month after a protest June 1 in Naperville over the police killing of George Floyd turned destructive. The actions of some after the protest resulted in looting and damage to businesses, but also in the emergence of a stronger community focus around recognizing and advancing diversity.
After Marcus posted his petition seeking more diverse faces in the mural "Naperville Loves A Parade," Naperville resident Sun Kwok started a GoFundMe campaign seeking $100,000. The purpose of the money, the campaign stated, is to help Naperville public art nonprofit Century Walk Corp. create new artwork to portray diversity.
So far, the page has raised nearly $9,500. Sherwin Williams has offered to donate 50 gallons of paint toward a future project, and the Art of Inclusion Steering Committee said fundraising has yet to start in earnest.
Marcus and Kwok are two members of the committee, which came together with the help of 41st District state Rep. Grant Wehrli of Naperville.
The group released a statement Friday about its work to "focus our energy in positive ways" during a "difficult and promising time."
The statement encouraged anyone interested in furthering the aim of diverse art to get involved by sending a short note about their interest to email@example.com. It offered a word of caution, too, about the time it could take to create a new permanent piece, saying it likely will take a year or more.
"Naperville Loves a Parade," the piece that drew Marcus' attention, was created over four years ending in 2014. It is in an alley, where it was designed to be an audience of sorts for a mural called "Parade of the Century" on the alley's opposite wall.
The mural cost $220,000 and was painted by artists from Naperville, the Czech Republic and the Philippines. It features 320 people who donated money to be included. Six of them are African Americans, while others have roots in Colombia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Pakistan, the Philippines and Poland, and as Native Americans and Hispanics.
The long time it can take to create art is why the new committee also aims to work on "one or more impactful short-term art projects."
Other committee members include Naperville residents Tony Andrews, Krishna Bansal, Nancy Chen, Yulan Chen, Wien Dai, Saily Joshi, Mia Hernandez, Rebecca Hernandez, Paul Leong, Alicia McCareins, Karen Peck, Becky Simon and Arista Wang, and Chicago resident Crystle Saylor.
Century Walk Chairman Brand Bobosky said the organization will serve as the charity to accept donations and could be involved in the end product, but the committee is taking the lead.
The committee will select the artists, theme and location for any future projects, and will conduct fundraising.
"We believe that Century Walk's 25 years of experience in creating public art and working with artists, building owners and the city of Naperville will be of great value to us," Kwok said.