Temporary Shelter will be an installation piece through which the viewers confront personal stories of New York’s homeless. I will create a free-standing structure reminiscent of a sukkah, a temporary hut constructed for use during the week-long Jewish festival of Sukkot.
Unlike a traditional sukkah, however, the panels that make up the interior walls of Temporary Shelter will tell the stories of several of New York’s homeless. In this way, the ushpizin (exalted guests) invited into the space will be the homeless men, women, and children on our streets instead of the traditional Biblical ancestors. And in place of a traditional roof of tree branches through which the stars can be seen, a solid fiber art piece will be used which lists the names of the individuals who lost their lives while in the shelter system over the last few years. By entering the space, the viewer will be completely surrounded by the stories of homeless New Yorkers and will be forced to consider the people with whom we share the city.
The outside panels of Temporary Shelter will be made from small fiber art pieces created by children in New York’s shelters. I am working with the students, encouraging them to express themselves through art using a consistent size and background color to help unify these pieces and give them the feel of stones or bricks from a distance.
Temporary Shelter will travel to synagogues and churches in the faith-based emergency shelter network in the fall/winter of 2011-12. Congregants of these institutions will be able to confront the stories of the men and women who make use of their shelters and food pantries each day. The piece will also be used as a teaching tool for the students in the religious schools of those organizations and will be open to the public during regular hours.
Please help me share the stories of these men, women and children who go unseen and unheard in our city. Your donation will help cover the cost of materials (fabric, thread, wood, ...), transportation from one venue to the next, and promotional materials such as postcards and programs. In kind donations such as fabric, batting, or materials for the sukkah frame are also welcome.
Watch the project take shape on my blog: http://sewingstories.com/artblog.
Temporary Shelter is made possible in part with public funds from the Manhattan Community Arts Fund, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.
- (74 days)