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Tippecanoe County art exhibit giving a voice to people experiencing homelessness

LTHC has partnered with Tippecanoe Arts Federation to display their client's work in an art exhibit called Voices of Homelessness.

Posted: Feb 16, 2020 2:18 PM
Updated: Feb 16, 2020 11:45 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — A Tippecanoe County art exhibit is giving some of the most silenced citizens a chance to be heard.

Tippecanoe Arts Federation is hosting an art gallery called Voices of Homelessness. Lafayette Transitional Housing Center clients are the face of the project. The goal is to help end homelessness by giving the community an opportunity to learn what the homeless experience looks like at a local level. 

“When you understand where a person has been and you're in that same space with them, I think I would like for them to take away just that 'I understand,'” said John McDaniels, LTHC client. 

That feeling of being heard and understood is something we want and need as humans. It's also something that feels hard to achieve when you’re dealing with homelessness.

“When we're on the bus and you're looking at my situation, it may look different from the outside but we're still the same individuals on the inside,” said McDaniels.

McDaniels recently fell into homelessness. He's spent the last few weeks working toward permanent housing through LTHC. While there, he came across a flier seeking people to share their journey to finding housing.

“The struggle has a voice, it also has an art form,” said McDaniels. “I just wanted to share something that reflected the homeless experience so I went in the direction of poetry.”

Poetry, drawing, and photography are just some of the ways these artists are sharing their experiences.

“I gave LTHC photos covering a wide gamut of range,” said John Zimmerman, former LTHC client. “Housing and homelessness have been something that's been a part of my life for the last four years.”

Zimmerman has always loved photography and using it to tell a story.

“The first thing I did was take a photo of the house where I was at because having a home when you're homeless is — it's the first big modifier of a change in improvement in your life,” said Zimmerman. “After that, I believe I took a photo of the refrigerator that had food, obviously, I mean, I guess I was just thinking that I had the four fundamental things, you know, food, clothing, water, and shelter.”

This art exhibit is designed to give people a chance to get a new perspective of the homeless experience but the artists are also leaving with a lesson.

“Life can take away from you your career, your life, your family, your parents in my case but it can't take away from your creativity and when you're surviving on the streets it can be one thing in my toolbox that I can hold onto that allows me to keep on going,” said Zimmerman.

You can din both McDaniels and Zimmerman's work at the Tippecanoe Art Federation located at 638 N St. Lafayette, IN 47901. It’s open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This Friday, is the Artists' Reception where multiple LTHC artists will be there to discuss their work. It'll be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The exhibit will be open until Feb. 28.

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