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Process emerging

We’ve asked some people to share stories about interactions they’ve had with the unhoused community. These stories have revealed stigmatization in a variety of ways. We’ve had stories about feeling anxious when seeing an unhoused person approach, one in which a person was essentially saved by an unhoused individual, and one in which a homeless individual couldn’t acclimate to life in shelters and ended up dying.

We’ve transcribed these stories and are seeing how artwork can reflect these stories in different ways. I personally feel that this process of reflecting and interpreting has affected my perception of unhoused individuals. I’ve come to pay greater attention to this community–perhaps because I’ve been primed to do so. So at night, when I walk out of our campus building, individuals who may have existed in my periphery become more apparent.

Is this the essence of the project? We’ve also seen that when we share a story, other people become interested in sharing their own. There’s something significant to this I think.

A woman stands with her right hand extended. A projection of words falls on her back and on the ground beneath her. In front of her is another screen onto which her silhouette is projected, but instead of seeing her shadow, the projected silhouette is filled with words from a story.

Through this reflective process, themes have emerged. Two that have stood out to us are illuminating the overlooked and the feeling of surprise when perception of an unhoused individual arises. Discussing these themes, a few ideas have intrigued us. We may be able to play with these themes as metaphors and try to ‘illuminate’ the overlooked, and bring out this feeling of surprise in people who experience these stories. So essentially light and the form of stories become central to our next phase of exploration.

A book sits upright with the cover page open. The cover page has small images cut out of it and as light passes through the small cut outs, a pattern forms  on the first, adjacent, open page.

We can imagine having the stories we craft existing in both indoor and outdoor locations. Perhaps some are placed in locations like parks, or the specific locations where a story took place. Galleries can also be a suitable landing spot. We can inquire into how to place them in the lobbies of office buildings downtown. Seeing an illuminated image/story about an unhoused individual through large office windows could create an interesting effect.

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