People were there for a variety of different reasons. Some people had experienced homelessness very recently and were still in transition. They were no longer on the street, but not yet experiencing the stability and security they desired.
Others were still on the street and actively engaged in the struggle to end that phase of their journey. One person didn't see himself as an artist, and just came to possibly make twenty dollars. There were some who resonated with the title of "artist" and wanted to make a statement. They wanted to show both sympathy, as well as empathy for those living on the streets and in shelters. They wanted to express that those experiencing homelessness are not "ghosts" or "apparitions," but real live human beings who have a presence and an existence on this planet even if they have no residence. The mural painters wanted to affirm the dignity of all human beings no matter what their present station in life may be.
The first step in the process involved putting white paint on the canvas. There was no dramatic transformation, but at least brush had been put upon canvas! The next step was more visible and involved as different shades of background color were applied. It ascended from dark gray to sky blue. A bridge and steps were added. Both of these were powerful symbols. The bridge connects from where one begins to where one wants to go. The steps represented ascension of people who were in transition. Underneath the bridge, those still experiencing homelessness were located in the dark shades of chaos and confusion. All were recognized in their various stages and understood in their proper context. Everyone is in various stages on the journey of life.
Our final feat up till now was the addition of the words... "here but not forgotten!" It recognized that those experiencing homelessness are present. They are not going anywhere. They are not forgotten by those who have completed that stage of the journey and remember those they left behind in the streets.
The canvas is no longer blank. It has a life of its own. It has been molded and shaped into a beautiful creation by a collective process of caring artists. The work continues. The journey does as well.
Photo by Lanecia Rouse