Portrait done in charcoal on paper by artist Benat Iglesias Lopez
Every day, as we move about our daily lives, we walk past homeless men, women and children who perhaps have made a temporary home on a park bench, in a doorway, or on the sidewalk throughout all five boroughs. They rely on our city’s shelters and the generosity of donations. This is a complex reality for more than 56,000 people dealing with homelessness in New York City. And while we may take a second to stop and share a coin or two, we don’t often take the time to connect with them in a personal way.
It was for this reason that Allie Wilkinson curated the current art installation Face New York, which brought together 17 artists and 18 members of The Bowery Mission community to bring about an artistic narrative. Each artist created a portrait based on not only what they saw, but also what they heard.
With the homeless men (some are refugees) sharing their stories, the artists were able to create the uniqueness in each of the men, sharing their portraits and their stories, as part of the annual Lower East Side Art Drive and fundraiser for the Mission. The exhibit is located at The Bowery Mission, 227 Bowery, which is just steps away from 190 Bowery, in the news last year after being sold for $55 million. The Face New York exhibit will be on display until November 1, open daily from 9:30 am to 1 pm and from 2:30 pm to 6 pm, free and open to the public. Below are a few of the portraits on display.
The portrait Rex is graphite on paper by artist Eleanor Adam
When Winky Adam met Rex, he had only been in this country a month, having been forced to leave his home in Nigeria. He holds a masters in International Security, but as of yet, has no job and has found himself homeless – but yet he has hope.
The portrait of Ed is graphite and oil paint on Arches paper by artist Jessica Olah
The portrait of Ed greets you as you enter the room. In his own words, next to his portrait he will tell you of his faith in God and how that has seen him through.
The portrait Jonesie is oil on wood panel by artist Benat Iglesias Lopez
Mr. Macklin was created with plaster by artist Michael Wilkinson
William painted in ink on paper by artist Ken Shih
Chloe is William’s dog. She means all the world to him. When times were tough, he made sure that Chloe ate even if there wasn’t enough for both of them. Dogs aren’t allowed in the shelters, which was a huge motivator to have a place of his own. He talks about how much the Bowery Mission means to him. He says that the sermons keep him strong.
Abimael painted in oil on panel by artist Satoshi Okada
Abimael grew up in the Bronx. He talks of the high rents that are so far out of reach that he can only afford to rent a room from time to time. He’ll tell you he’s no bum and feels typecast by his current situation.
Milo painted in acrylic on canvas by artist Pairoj Pichetmetakul
Milo talks about the dreams he had when he was a child – to grow up to be a fireman. He doesn’t talk about why he left home at the age of eleven, making the people in the streets his family. So far, he’s never had a birthday.
Portraits of Yannick and Jeffrey painted in watercolor by artist Richard Weinstein
Last year, The Bowery Mission, a privately funded organization, gave nightly shelter to more than 98,000 men and women. They provided more than 390,000 meals, gave away bags of groceries, articles of clothing, haircuts, eye exams, and doctor’s appointments. They provided residential recovery programs for men and women, provided summer camp for over 1,000 at-risk kids, and assisted in helping many of them gain employment.
The exhibit is on the walls of The Bowery Mission Dining Hall
Next, read about the The Many Lives of the Prince George Hotel, Now Affordable Housing for the Homeless. Follow Face New York on Facebook. Get in touch with the author at AFineLyne.