.Homeless But Not Hopeless
You may have passed by her sitting on the edge of the sidewalk, or walked by him sitting on the steps going down to the subway. Maybe you noticed, but perhaps you did not.
You had somewhere to go. Unfortunately, they did not.
Former member of Congregation RRC (later to become Or Hadash in Fort Washington, Pa.) and longtime friend to the Reconstructionist movement, Diana Myers, spent most of her working life helping the homeless. As an undergraduate, she became interested in city planning and, later in her professional life, she worked to create affordable housing options for people with special needs.
Always the artist, Myers dabbled in many mediums from sketching, sculpture, welding, to collage and printmaking. But her art, while a major part of her life, was used as a mental break from her professional life. In 2013, Myers and Genny O'Donnell, Director of the Coordinated Homeless Outreach Center (CHOC) in Norristown, Pa., collaborated on a new project called “Homeless But Not Hopeless.”
“This exhibit was important to me because it was the first time I combined my art and my career,” Myers said.
O’Donnell photographed 18 residents of the CHOC. Most of these people had been homeless for at least six months or longer. Myers printed a series of monoprints on paper that she then tore into strips and wove together. This process represents how Jewish values and ethics are formed, interwoven and passed down from one generation to the next—each generation adding its own spirit to the tapestry.
Each person photographed had selected a weaving for the background of his or her portrait. O’Donnell then superimposed the portraits on each individual’s chosen background.
Since 2013, Myers has made sure to stage the exhibit every November for Homeless Awareness Month. The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College is thrilled to have these images on display this year in RRC’s Ziegelman Hall, outside of Philadelphia.
“One of the things that has been important to me is to show that homelessness can affect anybody,” Myers said. “Especially after the crash in 2008, there are a lot of people who became homeless who had not been before because they lost their jobs. Sometimes people have an illness that wipes out their savings and they lose their home. Homelessness touches people of all ages, genders, religions and races without discrimination.”
You can see the artwork if you come to RRC’s office building in Wyncote, Pa. during the month of November. You can also view these images on our website
. For information on the exhibit or how to purchase a print, please contact Diana Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org
Use these images as inspiration to make a difference. You can volunteer your time at a shelter or serve on a board of a local affordable housing organization. You can also donate food, toiletries or money to your local shelter.