Seeing Ourselves : The Picture ShowSeandra is a 3-year-old SpongeBob SquarePants devotee, who was determined to take a picture of someone inside a bubble. She also happens to be homeless. Her photograph is just one of many in an >
Seandra is a 3-year-old SpongeBob SquarePants devotee, who was determined to take a picture of someone inside a bubble. She also happens to be homeless. Her photograph is just one of many in an exhibition called "Seeing Ourselves," currently on display at Nashville's Frist Center for the Visual Arts. The photos are from a community outreach program with Safe Haven Family Shelter, a nonprofit homeless center for families in transition.
Nicky Nash and Allen Clark, Seandra, age 3
Self-portrait, Benjamin, age 14
Happy Feet, Rodneka, age 10
Cherry Ice Cream Smiles, Rebekah, age 6
My Silhouette, Charles Jr., age 9
Dreams, Le'Ferrah, age 11
My Daughters, Mycella
Rodneka, Markeela, age 4
High as You Can, Benjamin, age 14, and Allen Clark
Goals, Ferris, age 12
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The Frist outreach program initially began with writing workshops at Safe Haven, but the coordinators soon decided that photography was a better alternative. It allowed these families to document the uncertainty of life in progress, to express themselves and provide a humanized portrait of what it means to be homeless. Perhaps it even provided some escape. For about a month, Nashville photographer Allen Clark led a series of photography workshops for both children and parents alike, emphasizing life in the moment.
For equipment, Frist distributed a batch of Holgas, mass-produced Chinese toy cameras, first introduced in the early 1980s as an affordable option for working-class families. With poor, plastic encasing, Holgas often produce distorted images, which many photographers have actually grown to prefer.
Andee Rudloff, educator for outreach, explained the choice of Holga cameras: "They produce beautiful flaws," she said. The images present an intimate portrait of homeless life, which viewers have repeatedly concluded is far from what they had preconceived. "What's been enlightening about this exhibition," Rudloff continued, "is that [the people are] just like you and me. There isn't a certain look that a homeless person has. We're all flawed, but in a beautiful way."