Photos from the Unsheltered: Unseen project organized by Rhodes College students will be showcased Friday, April 26, at Crosstown Arts located at 430 N. Cleveland. Free and open to the public, the show is from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Unsheltered: Unseen is focused on providing those experiencing homeless with an avenue for artistic expression and communicating these unique perspectives to a wider audience. Approximately 25 participants will be displaying their art, which is photography. Some of the images in this year’s show include self-portraits, interior scenes, and the Memphis landscape. Over the past four years, the project has distributed over 350 cameras and displayed approximately 235 photographs.
“In a way, Unsheltered: Unseen can be viewed as having two components,” says Sarah Pate, one of the student coordinators. “The first part of the project consists of student volunteers passing out disposable cameras to members of the Memphis homeless community. The commission given to each photographer is simply, ‘Use this camera to capture your Memphis.’ Through this, we hope to provide opportunities for self-expression and ownership.”
Jenna Sullivan, another student coordinator, adds the second part of the project is the organizing of a gallery show. A jury of Rhodes faculty/staff, community members, and students choose photos to be included in a show open to the entire community. “We hope these photos will enhance the conversation about hunger and homelessness in Memphis. These unique perspectives, which might otherwise go unseen, can hopefully help each of us to become more connected to our community,” says Sullivan.
This year, Unsheltered: Unseen has partnered with Idlewild Presbyterian, Manna House, First Congressional Church, H.O.P.E., and St. John’s Methodist Church.
Says Cynthia Crawford, one of the artists showing this year, “I love to be creative, and so I would take pictures of things that people may not notice or things that people pass and keep on going . . . There were some days that I got out, and the only reason that I got out was to take pictures . . . It was nice to have stress free days where the only purpose was to take pictures.”
Crawford also found that the project could be a way for those experiencing homelessness to hold on to particular places and memories. She says, “I know a lot of people—like me when I first fell into homelessness—that lost a lot of family memorabilia and pictures. And this gave me the chance to have something to say ‘I was here,’ ‘I know that person’ . . . When you’re homeless, it sometimes feels like you are invisible . . . this is a way to say . . . ‘I’m a part of the community, I’m still valid.’ ”
Crosstown Arts has been chosen as the location of this year’s event in an effort to keep the project centrally located. Many of the participating artists and partnering organizations are in the Midtown area. “We want as many artists to be present at the show as possible, so that they may speak about their work and experience with visitors,” says Pate.
For more information, contact Sarah Pate or Jenna Sullivan at email@example.com or call 901-257-9243. Also visit the website at www.unshelteredunseen.org to view past photos or information about the upcoming show.