Shital Daftari, founder of Saris and Things, is one of Naperville’s over 22,000 Asian residents, and one of 16 of those residents photographed by artist Wing Young Huie for a project with the Naperville Heritage Society.
“We’re telling the stories of our Asian community, which is a growing community in Naperville and really has been for the last 30 years,” said Donna Sack, Vice President of Community Engagement and Audience with the Naperville Heritage Society.
Daftari’s story is that she responded to the growing Indian community’s needs by opening a business that provides Indian clothing unavailable elsewhere.
“There’s a large Indian population in Naperville and in the United States, and Indian clothing isn’t available like it was before,” said Daftari. “People aren’t going to India anymore to do their shopping but there’s lots of weddings happening in the US and Naperville in specific.”
It’s stories like Daftari’s that are the core of Naperville Heritage Society’s project, which is examining Naperville’s growing Asian population.
The cultural focus made photographic artist Wing Young Huie a natural fit for the project.
“He does a lot of work helping people talk about culture and identity so we were really looking for an opportunity to bring him to Naperville because it’s a perfect pairing for the work he does with our community,” said Sack.
“I feel that we live in a culture that is defined by images,” said Huie. “And I think that the media is not as diverse as all of the people living in this country so having photographs that really reflect all of us is really important.”
Huie also had an open call day for other Asian Naperville families to be included. And all the photos will be put together into an art exhibit that’s set to provide a snapshot of culture in our community.
The project was funded by a federal grant for the Naperville Heritage Society from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The exhibit will open in May and will run through August.
Naperville News 17’s Blane Erwin reports.
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