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Artist of the Issue: Diamond Dadej

Dadej+singing+a+highlander+song+at+a+traditional+Polish+wedding.%0A%28Photo+courtesy+of+Didi+Dadej%29
Dadej singing a highlander song at a traditional Polish wedding.
(Photo courtesy of Didi Dadej)

Dadej singing a highlander song at a traditional Polish wedding. (Photo courtesy of Didi Dadej)

Dadej singing a highlander song at a traditional Polish wedding. (Photo courtesy of Didi Dadej)

By Malak Afaneh, Reporter

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Since she was a little girl, Didi Dadej had always loved the sound of her voice soaring through a microphone, the designs of glamorous costumes and the dazzle of dancing onstage. Her motivation to express her unique identity was so powerful, she would even grab the microphones on stages and make up songs to the entertainment of her family members.

“My family was my main motivation in me pursuing my talents,” Dadej, Div. 771, said. “My mom loves Polish culture, so seeing her love it made me love it even more.”

Dadej has come a long way from her make believe stages as a child; she now sings and dances professionally with two Polish groups, Rzepicha and Wawel, and spreads her love for Polish culture at churches, festivals, and even here at Lane with the Polish Club.

Although Dadej started in third grade, she has continued with her dancing throughout her entire life, and hopes her love for dancing would be shared in her family through generations to come.

“When I reflect upon it, I really would hope my kids would partake in the Polish culture,” Dadej said.

Due to the cultural diversity among the different geographical areas of Poland, folk dancing can differ drastically from region to region. However, Dadej’s origins from southern Poland is a driving influence in her selection of dancing and singing. In International Days, Polish Club is known for their representation of the mountain men and highlanders through their costumes and music.

“[Polish Club’s] singing style is very rich and strong, the floral skirts touch the floor and are beautiful, the vests are hand embroidered,” Dadej said. “It is one of a kind, and my stepdad is from there so I have heavy affiliation with this region’s culture.”

However, Dadej’s artistic talents are not limited to just her singing and dancing skills, as she has found herself interested in fashion design and embroidery. In need of an art credit to graduate, Dadej enrolled in Lane’s Fiber Fashion and Fabrics class and was amazed at the countless pieces she was able to create through her creativity and passion.

“My grandmother taught me how to use needle and thread when I was little, but I had never touched a (sewing) machine in my life,” Dadej said.

In an effort to connect her talents in schoolwork with love for her homeland of Poland and pride in expressing her identity, Dadej embroidered a Polish girl from Krakow, a city in Poland culturally known for the symbol of  flower crowns and braids.

“I’m very proud of the piece because it combines my deep love and admiration for Polish culture with a new skill I learned this year,” Dadej said.

After expressions of admiration and awe from friends and family members, Dadej decided to explore and incorporate different influences and techniques to allow her work to represent her true self.  

“For me, I like to add my own style and instead of just threading the outline of the flower, I filled it in to add more depth and color,” Dadej said. “In a way, it looks like the girl is coming out of the thread.”

Ms. Simanis, the Fiber, Fabric and Fashion teacher, uses a curriculum that allows Dadej to freely explore her artistic preferences and efforts.

“Didi is a very talented, hardworking, enthusiastic young lady who has an energy that is engaging,” said Ms. Simanis. “This is shown not only in her artistic qualities but in the way she communicates with her peers, in a way that is very appropriate but also fun.”

Dadej is already planning on joining the Polish Club and choir at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, as well as buying a set of needles and fabrics to continue her embroidery. Although Dadej is graduating, she offers words of advice for any Lane students who may be nervous to express themselves through visual arts and design.

“We should be so grateful at the amazing diversity we have living in Chicago and to go to Lane, and being proud of your culture is an excellent way for others to identify who you are and how you yourself identify yourself,” Dadej said. “Keep your roots in mind when you go on your lifepath.”

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Artist of the Issue: Diamond Dadej