The series on Homeless Youths what done in the summer of 2003. A client had asked if I would donate my time to a church services group that helped kids get off the street. I ended up spending every Thursday for the next six months with whoever would show up. Some came virtually every week, some on ly once.
When I asked the kids how they might best describe the experience of being homeless, they all agreed that it was like being invisible. They described how, for instance, when they would ask a passerby for spare change on the street, that most of the time they were completely ignored. It was as though they didn’t exist. I knew what they meant, but from the other side for I had been ignoring those same kids in just that way for years. After surprisingly little introspection I determined that I was intimidated by their outward appearance and figured that most everyone else was as well.
The idea behind the life size prints was that we the intimidated might have an opportunity to take a good and close look at those individuals we had determined so unworthy of our respect. What I found amazing was the response to the images by so many that the kids “don’t look like homeless kids at all”, to which I replied, “and what is it a homeless kid is supposed to look like?”
The kids have long since grown up and moved on with their lives, some to good places and others probably not so. But since that time I’ve not ignored a single homeless person, young or old, asking for my spare change. I may or may not give them the money they seek, but I always say hello.