In Our Eyes In Our Words
Have you ever looked deeply into the eyes of a homeless person? Doing that can change your life in unexpected ways. This book can help.
When artist Jeff Horn sat down with the first of his homeless subjects in 1992, his vision was simple: interpret and reveal the personality of the people who agreed to have their portrait drawn from life. At first, the men and women who congregated at Episcopal Services Alliance felt they might be demeaned, but this all changed after the first drawing was complete. The dignity and authenticity of the portraits Jeff Horn created reveal a depth of humanity that connects every one of us, regardless of our race, our beliefs, or, most poignantly, whether or not our homes have doors.
As the work progressed, Jeff began to realize that the process of making the drawings was cathartic, both for him and for the sitter. As Jeff writes in the Foreword:
"I realized my drawings mean more than catching their likeness. For my homeless subjects these portraits were an acknowledgment of their existence; something they seldom felt."
As Jeff realized his subject often were willing to share stories from their lives, he began handing each a piece of paper with an invitation to write something about their experiences on the street. These handwritten statements, reproduced alongside the portrait of the person who wrote them and transcribed in many cases for readability, offer us a direct, first-hand look into the life of the homeless person whose eyes convey what mere words never could.
"Of all the things I have done artistically, I am most proud of this endeavor. I hope that all who view this portfolio of drawings will sense their common humanity with those on the street."
-- Jeff Horn, October 2017
Risks and challenges
Publishing a full-scale art book with a purpose goes beyond the usual exercise of assembly, design, print, and distribute. From the start, the vision of this project was to produce a tangible "thank you" to the leaders of agencies that achieve breakthrough results in homelessness, and to fully fund that vision as a "for purpose" endeavor.
To produce 1,000 copies of the book and distribute them to agency leaders has been a labor of love, funded to date by the generosity of one man: Robert A Ettinger, of San Diego California. Mr Ettinger, a Purple Heart recipient and Vietnam Era Veteran of the United States Navy, who was himself homeless at one time in his life, stepped up to bring the project through to its current stage of completion: ready to print.
The "first 1,000" copies will be signed by artist Jeff Horn and given to the leaders of the agencies that really make a difference for homeless people. To make that possible, we are looking to our community and beyond. Are you willing to offer your "thank you" for the outstanding work done by many exemplary non-governmental organizations to help end homelessness? Will you help put two signed copies of this community-building book into the hands of agency leaders, one for them to keep and one for them to share?
Most of the agencies that deserve active appreciation for what they do have little to no money for advertising and marketing. Your contribution to this project can help change that by creating tangible awareness for the good work actually being done.
Beyond the "first 1,000" there is an opportunity for future editions of the book, and for subsequent public sales to create sustainable funding for homeless services agencies. For now, it will be enough to offer the "first 1,000" as gratitude for all that has really been done for the brothers and sisters that live alongside us, and into whose eyes we sometimes find it so difficult to gaze.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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