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The Voice of the Black Community
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Arts and Entertainment

Artists work to connect with housing insecurity
'A Tale of Two Cities' raises awareness
Published Wednesday, March 14, 2018 9:23 am
by Ashley Mahoney

Homelessness is difficult to articulate.

“A Tale of Two Cities” represents where art and housing insecurity intersect through the work of artists Antoine Williams and Marcus Kiser, who are in residence at the McColl Center for Art + Innovation and have worked on several previous projects together. They will recreate the garden space at Charlotte’s Urban Ministry Center on North College Street, but it is not a beautification project.

“We wanted to go against just painting a literal image of painting an image of someone who is homeless, or who is experiencing housing insecurity, because that can be somewhat generic or trite,” Williams said. “It’s hard to fully articulate what it means to experience this. Going abstract was a better abstract to at least give a gesture of what people are going through, rather than trying to demonstrate that.”

An abstract crown anchors the design, drawing parallels between what people think they know about the experience of homelessness, the impact it has on the psyche as well as the city as a whole.

“Two crowns represent the Queen City, but our idea behind the design is these geometric shapes, these mechanical pointed shapes, but also a pattern,” Williams said. “In talking to a lot of people, we’ve looked at patterns, these interconnected patterns, and seeing how these things are connected, starting with these people themselves. A pattern is interconnected, and it’s like a reference to DNA. This idea of how homelessness effects the physical body, but it also affects people mentally, psychologically, emotionally, but then you widen out, and there is also a connection to family, housing insecurity, communal and also the city. We’re trying to reference in this pattern those connections that homelessness can affect.”

Said Kiser: “Since September, we’ve been down at the Urban Ministry Center gathering their stories. It’s part of the ArtPlace America grant, which the McColl got.”

While the project may spark conversations, it isn’t the cure for Charlotte’s housing problems.

“We’re not fooling ourselves,” Williams said. “Spray paint on a wall is not going to fix homelessness, but we wanted someone there to get someone out of it. When we make the mural, we’re going to hire two-three neighbors who either have experience within the arts or want to learn. They will be compensated. Kiser and I are looking at it as the act of them working with us. That’s the real art. This mural is kind of the byproduct of those interactions.”

For more information: https://mccollcenter.org/blog/painters-and-sculptors-and-beyond?id=194


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