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'Facing Homelessness', Finding Grace, Dignity

An exhibit by Springfield artists featuring portraits of people experiencing homelessness wrapped up last week.

The watercolors, photographs and mixed-media portraits were of clients of Helping Hands – a men’s shelter on Washington Street just east of downtown.

Credit Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois
NPR Illinois
Portrait in Facing Homelessness exhibit at the Springfield Art Association

“A lot of times when we talk about homelessness, we say ‘the homeless’… there’s a lot of stigma and stereotype around ‘the homeless,’” said Helping Hands director Erica Smith. “What we really want is first of all, people to see homeless as individuals. We also want people to understand there is a lot of strength and grace required to be homeless, to go through that experience.”

Just before the exhibit closed, NPR Illinois stopped by and filed this report.

There may be another opportunity to see it. Smith said she’s gotten invitations to stage the exhibit at a couple other Springfield locations, and details could be announced soon.

Mary Hansen is a former NPR Illinois reporter.
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