By Mrinal Gokhale
Milwaukee may be known for segregation, but ZIP MKE has launched a photography exhibit to showcase the diversity of the city. The exhibit, which showcases professional photography from all 28 Milwaukee zip codes, premiered on Saturday, March 25 at Milwaukee Public Library on 76th and Mill Road at 12 p.m.
Dominic Inouye is the founder of ZIP MKE, who organized this kick off celebration. He said that ZIP MKE’s goal was to collect photographs from all of Milwaukee’s zip codes to connect residents, break barriers, and encourage change. Some of the photographs contained people, while others included sightseeing attractions, businesses, street artwork and other noteworthy sights that the particular zip codes were each known for.
“My family is from Japan and my dad immigrated here 60 years ago.” he said. “There are 600,000 people living in Milwaukee. That is 600,000 faces and experiences from all over the world here in this city, which is why we are doing this exhibit.”
The International Learning Center, located in the 53233 zip code near Marquette University, is one organization that participated in photographing their area. The ILC is a nonprofit organization that provides literacy, adult education and citizenship classes to refugees. Cynthia Zarazua, instructional supervisor at the ILC, attended this event with almost 20 students.
Zarazua said the purpose behind taking the photographs was to show the hidden diversity in the 53233-zip code, which was just as diverse as the crowd she brought in.
“We want people to know about 53233. When people think about 25th and Wisconsin Avenue, they my have negative stereotypes. Our community is filled with good people, strong families, quality businesses and effective social service organizations like Neighborhood House. There are beautiful things in all neighborhoods in Milwaukee.”
Dylan Gast is an instructor at the ILC who teaches job readiness courses and citizenship classes. He also agreed that the ILC was very diverse with refugees from many countries.
“Most of these students here today are from Burma, Somalia and Eritrea and some are from Myanmar and Malaysia,” said Gast. “I have ten languages from students in my classes, and we work with people from all over the world. We get about 700 students per year.”
In all, Inouye said the exhibit contained over 1,000 photographs. He said the exhibit was successful at the Tippacanoe and Central library locations, and the photographs from this exhibit would be showcased at the Mill Road location until April 24.
For those who cannot make it to the library, galleries of zip codes and their photographs may be found at zipmke.com. ZIP MKE is also on Facebook.