Artist and Professor Willie Baronet has purchased more than 1,400 homeless signs over the past 25 years, and he uses this collection to create moving installations to raise awareness about homelessness.
The WE ARE ALL HOMELESS project began in 1993 due to the awkwardness I felt when I’d pull up to an intersection and encounter a person holding a sign, asking for help. Like many, I wrestled with whether or not I was doing good by giving them money. Mostly I struggled with my moral obligations, and how my own choices contributed in conscious or unconscious ways to the poverty I was witnessing. I struggled with the unfairness of the lives people are born into, the physical, mental and psychological handicaps. In my struggle, I avoided eye contact with those on the street, unwilling to really see them, and in doing so avoided seeing parts of myself. That began to change once I began asking them if they would sell their signs. My relationship to the homeless has been powerfully and permanently altered. The conversations and connections have left an indelible mark on my heart. I still wrestle with personal questions regarding generosity, goodness, compassion, and guilt. And what it means to be homeless: practically, spiritually, emotionally? Is home a physical place, a building, a structure, a house? Or is it a state of being, a sense of safety, of being provided for, of identity? I see these signs as signposts of my own journey, inward and outward, of reconciling my own life with my judgments about those experiencing homelessness.
Reception and artist’s talk/Q&A, Monday, October 7, 12-3PM
A screening of his documentary “Signs of Humanity” will be scheduled during September, date TBA.