Photographer Wing Young Huie brings neighbors together with latest exhibition

As part of this weekend’s Arts On Chicago event in Minneapolis, photographer Wing Young Huie has placed 100 of his images inside 20 different businesses along a section of Chicago Avenue.

StevenBe, owner of StevenBe Yarns and Dan, owner of Mill City Auto on Chicago Ave in Minneapolis
Photo by Wing Young Huie

Titled “We Are The Other,” the series consists of portraits of people who live or work in the neighborhood. If you’re familiar with Huie’s past projects that may seem like nothing new, but this time there’s a twist.

Huie, who lives and works on Chicago Ave., used the project to meet his neighbors, and in turn, to get them to meet each other. In the process he got business owners to connect with one another, and even faith leaders to sit down and talk to each other for the first time.

“We live in a culture of otherness,” said Huie. “Sometimes ‘other’ is the person across the street – the street that you don’t cross. I think familiarity is important and I think connection is important because we live in a time when we’re more polarized than ever and it’s really tough to make a direct connection. That in itself is worthwhile.”

Luke and Brooke, South Minneapolis
Photo by Wing Young Huie

Huie started by walking across the street to interview the local barber, along with his current client. Than he asked the barber who would be the “other” that he’d like to meet. The barber suggested the owner of the local coffee shop, since he doesn’t drink coffee. That led to another conversation, and another photo shoot. The owner of the local coffee shop said her “other” would probably be the owner of the local auto body shop. Another conversation, another photo shoot. And so on, and so forth.

For the project Huie ended up visiting a mosque in the basement of a local grocery store, and meeting a group of men – all in wheelchairs – who share a house together.

“In my other projects I didn’t necessarily live where I was working,” said Huie. “I was so busy, I wasn’t anchored in the community. So I moved to 38th and Chicago with the intent of being anchored in the community and being an asset to the community. I’m really not that friendly – I’m not unfriendly – but like most people I’m in my own cultural technological bubble. So this is different for me, because these are my own neighbors, and this project allows me to get out of my own bubble.”

It’s fitting that while saying this, Huie is wearing a black t-shirt with the words “South Minneapolis” written in silver gothic lettering. It looks like Huie is settling in to his new home.

Katie and Bruce, South Minneapolis
Photo by Wing Young Huie

“We Are The Other” can be seen in stores along Chicago Avenue between 32nd and 38th streets in South Minneapolis. Oh and heads up (literally) in Cup Foods; there are 27 photos displayed on the ceiling.