Seeking More Diversity in Public Art

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Seeking Equal Representation

The protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis have people looking more closely at how we support different races in our own community. Some are noticing a lack of diverse representation in public art around Naperville and are pushing for that to change. An online petition to add more diversity to one particular mural has garnered more than 40,000 signatures.

“It was overwhelming!” said petitioner Tyler Marcus. “It was a great feeling seeing support from the community, having people reach out to me and say ‘that’s a good thing that you’re doing, that’s awesome, that means a lot.’”

The Downers Grove resident began the petition to revamp the “Naperville Loves a Parade” mural after he took notice of it while on one of his regular walks through downtown.

“We were walking past The Gap and I happened to you know, look at the mural and just happen to walk straight down this wall and noticed the lack of diversity,” he said.

That’s when Marcus, a personal trainer for people with disabilities, decided to take action.

“So I decided to take a picture next to it, and bring more awareness just to a lack of representation of not just people of color but people of different abilities.”

He then used that photo for the petition, setting a goal of 10,000 signatures, which had more than 4x that in just a few days. Now he has set a new goal of $50,000.

More About the Mural

Nestled in an alleyway between The Gap and Talbots stores, “Naperville Loves a Parade” has 307 faces on it.  Community members paid to be included, the majority of them caucasian, with the money being donated to the Century Walk, the nonprofit behind the art.  The group commissioned three artists to paint the art in 2015 as its 47th piece.

Chairman Brand Bobosky released a statement regarding the petition:
“We believe that it is inclusive as to the artists that created this public art starting in 2011 as well as the subject people (over 300) and the 80 plus businesses portrayed…Our three artists are gender and ethnically diverse, hailing from the Czech Republic, Philippines and the United States. So too are 32 people painted on the wall: Korea, Pakistan, Colombia, Mexico, Japan, the Philippines including African Americans numbering six in total.”

Insisting on More

Still, Marcus and others are insisting on more varied representation in Naperville’s art as a whole.

“This has been here for a long time so I think it would be cool if we could actually come together and start a new mural, that shows more groups and more diversity and people with all different abilities,” he said.

In fact, Naperville resident and former Rotary Club of Naperville president Sun Kwok has created a GoFundMe page to raise money for just that. In one day, it has raised a little more than $6,000 of its $100,000 goal, which would fund the creation of an entirely new public art piece to have greater representation of all races and cultures.