Target: Andres Serrano, artist
Goal: Thank Serrano for his “Sign of the Times” project, which helps tell the stories of people experiencing homelessness
With roughly 50 million Americans living in poverty, homelessness has never been more visible. People of all ages, genders, and situations, have found themselves living outside and struggling to survive. Artist Andres Serrano saw this tragedy in the stories of people begging in New York City, and went on to share them through a project he calls “Sign of the Times.”
Serrano was shocked to see such an increase in homelessness in his native New York. He respectfully approached people with signs and offered to purchase them, each time explaining “I’m buying these signs because I see every sign as a story. There are many stories out here that should be heard.” The project eventually included some 200 signs: from pregnant mothers, Veterans of the Korean War and the War in Afghanistan, Occupy protesters, Anarchists, Christians, and youth left to fend for themselves on the streets.
At times both inspiring and heartbreaking, Serrano’s work humanizes an epidemic and often invisible social issue. In the artist’s own words, the project “is a reaction to a social injustice and tragedy. It’s a testimony to the homeless men and women who roam the streets in search of food and shelter. It’s also a chronicle of the times we live in.” Thank Serrano for his compassion and vision in exposing the tragedy that is homelessness.
Dear Andres Serrano,
Your “Sign of the Times” project, documenting homelessness in New York City, has deeply touched many people. Despite the fact that so many Americans are themselves living in poverty, homelessness continues to bring with it a tremendous stigma. This, of course, is in addition to the struggle to eat and find a safe place to sleep, which the homeless face every day.
Why do people look away when confronted with such poverty? Perhaps it is fear of the abyss that is hopelessness, which for many is nearer than they dare admit. Or perhaps for the privileged few it is genuine ignorance as to how a person could lose everything and be forced to resort to begging just to survive.
By sharing the sparse words on these New Yorkers’ signs, you have helped their stories tell themselves. They are human stories, tragic, insightful and courageous, and they need to be told. Thank you for your empathy, and for sharing “Sign of the Times” with the world.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: psyberartist via Flickr