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Research and beyond

The last few weeks have seen our ideas start to manifest more clearly. And I feel as though it’s a nice path we’ve travelled down. We’ve been able to bring stories to light in a few interesting ways that resonate with us.

A collage of four pictures taken from different angles. The images each feature artwork  in which an unhoused person has been cut out, leaving a silhouette on the image. Light is cast onto this artwork and through the cut-out silhouette a shadow is cast. When one looks closely at the artwork, one sees a story written backwards bleeding through the semi-transparent material.

The project hasn’t been about directly affecting change in a houseless individual, but instead in shifting stigmas in those that are housed. Why does this matter? Well this core problem of stigmaization and ‘othering’ of individuals who don’t fit neatly into what we consider ‘normal’ society, leads to division, which in turn leads to things like disparity. When we can overlook a segment of society, then it’s pretty easy for the rest of society to keep moving, and as it moves the gap between these segments can grow.

So if this problem is a real one–which again, I think it is–then it seems to be a problem worth studying. How do we better understand the nature of this type of stigmatization? This line of questioning has brought about the idea of using the approaches we have been exploring to conduct arts and storytelling-based research. We can envision more tightly framing the process that moves through story generation, artistic interpretation and then adding a layer of qualitative analysis; i.e. what happens to people when they share or hear a story that reveals stigmatization? Can we gain insights over time? Our observation that people, after hearing a story about interactions with the ‘unhoused’ community, want to share their own stories could lead us towards another metric of sorts.

All of this said, I think a lot was learned during this project. And the learning was quite evocative and thus meaningful. Now I’m not sure whether any of us will continue to work on this project, but it does feel like, to me anyway, that something interesting has emerged.

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