The homeless population is often ignored or pushed out of conversations about the city. With the advent of gentrification, metro-Atlanta has dramatically changed. As this metro-space continues to diversify and fill, we must listen to those with a unique and intimate relationship to the city. People who have experienced homelessness more fully understand the ins and outs; the corners and dead ends; the beauty and the grime of urban Atlanta.

Partnering with The Gateway Center, and under the direction of facilitating artist, Kelly Kristin Jones, Emory University students engaged in dialogue about the city with the Homeless of Atlanta. Influenced by asset-based community development theory, students identified key ideas, dreams and aspirations expressed by participants. After the interview, participants were encouraged to write out their "key phrases" on posters resembling the iconic (and often stereotyped) panhandler's cardboard sign. Participants were then photographed holding their empowering and affirming signage. 

Taking a queue from the rich history of public art in Atlanta, these portraits are printed at larger-than-life size and installed throughout the historic Freedom Park on the city's east side. The statements/portraits engage viewers and passersby with dignity-filled images and insightful statements about each individual and the city itself.

Rather than beg, the signs offer the viewer a gift; a gift of insight, experience and hope. Statement/portraits call on viewers to learn, share, and gain new perspective on the city of Atlanta and its' homeless community.

A PROJECT FUNDED BY SOUTHWEST AIRLINES WITH SUPPORT FROM EMORY UNIVERSITY AND WONDERROOT.