Homeless people tell their own stories in art exhibition

To many, the realm of artistic expression and the realities of those experiencing homelessness seem miles apart – and unlikely to intersect.

But an exhibition at The Philadelphia Foundation’s Community Art Gallery featuring works by residents of The DePaul House aims to bridge those disparate worlds, reminding participants and viewers of the common ground they share.

“When people say ‘homeless people’ or ‘the homeless,’ they become invisible and lose their personality or humanity,” said DePaul House program director Sandra Guillory.

“Art is, for us, a way to show the public who the homeless are – they’re working poor, they’re fathers, they’re brothers, and they have hopes and dreams similar to many other people.”

The exhibit combines self-portraits created by DePaul House residents with depictions of their dreams that act as blueprints for the future.

“We have a lot of guys working two part-time jobs and traveling two hours each day who are for the most part exhausted when they come home with us,” Guillory said.

“Creating art itself is an opportunity for them to express themselves and be creative and think about how they fit into the community. It also helps them refocus on their goals, because sometimes working that much, people forget why they’re doing it,” she said, surveying the gallery’s depictions of participants’ children, and homes they hope to purchase.

“It reminds them, ‘This is why I’m doing this. This is why I’m making really hard changes in my life.’”

“These can be uncomfortable topics for people to bring up or think about,” said Betsy Anderson of the Philadelphia Foundation.

“So this is a point of entry for people to begin to have significant conversations around these things to say, ‘Oh my goodness, I didn’t realize some of the issues and concerns that are affecting a particular population.’”

“I Contain Multitudes: Perspectives from People Experiencing Homelessness”
Sept. 18 through Jan. 24
Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Community Art Gallery of the Philadelphia Foundation
1234 Market St., Suite 1800


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