Young people served by The Night Ministry are represented in "Unaccompanied," an art exhibition and audio installation that captures the faces and voices of unhoused youth through large-scale portrait paintings and sound recordings.
The show's artists, Kate Capshaw and Joshua-Michéle Ross, collaborated with The Night Ministry and other organizations that serve unhoused youth to invite young people to sit for portraits and talk about their lives. Capshaw also provided a stipend for individuals depicted in the show, including Kiesha and Sharday, two of The Night Ministry's youth leaders, to travel to the exhibition opening at Georgia's Columbus State University in February.
"We all got to know each other," said Kiesha, who is a member of the alumni board of Youth 4 Truth, the leadership development program for young people served by The Night Ministry. "We met Kate, we talked to her, we hugged her."
"The artists did a great job making this a very special time and experience for the people that were involved," said Candace Musick, Youth Development Specialist at The Night Ministry. "It was a chance to reflect and share a human connection."
In the painted portraits, visitors saw the young people's expressive faces set against a simple dark background, and in the audio portion, they listened to their voices, as the young people responded to questions about their hopes, dreams, and more.
"The questions the artist asked didn't dwell on the experience of homelessness, which allowed the listener to connect with the young people on a more human level," said Tedd Peso, Director of Strategic Partnerships. "It gave you a sense of who they are as people rather than presenting a preconceived notion about what it is to be unhoused."
The impact of the exhibit on the visiting young people was powerful. "It was amazing, something nobody would ever imagine. Our voices and our pictures are being heard and seen," said Kiesha.
"I felt famous. I felt like I was a superstar. I loved being able to hear my voice and to have other people tell me what they heard when they listened to me. I felt like my voice mattered," said Sharday.
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