Homelessness in New York City is currently at record-highs since the Great Depression. Through Art Start’s work with only some of the 22,000 homeless children in New York City, we have enjoyed the honor and gift of becoming a part of many New York City families. Through these relationships we have found that often, the blanket of stigma that our city so blindly throws over families in the shelter system is turned inward. Families can feel intense shame and a sense of failure for their immediate circumstances.
Similarly, we realized that most New Yorkers are often unaware of the most common causes of homelessness in New York City, as well as the many success stories behind families living in the shelter system.
Art Start’s Family Portrait Project uses portraits and interviews to actively shift the focus on homeless families by celebrating their strength and unity through difficult times. Through this work, Art Start is seeking to inspire compassion and respect for the resiliency of the human spirit, both within families themselves undergoing poverty-related hardship as well as within New York City’s greater community, grappling with record rates of homelessness.
Approximately fifty families have participated in the project throughout 2013, consisting of; nuclear families, single mother families, single father families, teenage mothers, and expecting teenage mothers. These families submitted their portraits and stories to The Family Portrait Project gallery exhibition, co-presented by Art Start and Gerstein Fisher. The exhibition ran in December 2013 in the West Chelsea Arts Building.
Participating photographers for the project included: Fletcher Antsis, Brian Bloom, Natalie Brasington, Ty Cole, Andrew Eccles, Jason Goodrich, Michael Granacki, Heidi Gutman, David Johnson, David Lang, Tom McKenzie, Eric Ogden, Martin Schoeller, Bryan Shih, Zachary Maxwell Stertz, Jim Wright, and Peter Yang.
Photographers were supported by make-up artists: Wenya Chang, Alex LaMarsh, Emma Strachman, Rachel Weissman and Kim White as well as production assistants, Alex Marin and Alexandra Perez, both Art Start youth.
Journalists on the project included Allegra Ben-Amotz, Echo Garrett, Jessica Rodriguez, Frank Santo, Nina Spierer, Linda Tagliaferro and Robbie Whelan, whom having written for The New York Time, New York Daily News, The Wall Street Journal and Parade, to name a few.
Commercial studio equipment and delivery was sponsored 100% by Fast Ashley’s Studios in Brooklyn, NY.
Johanna De Los Santos, Art Start’s Executive Director / Johanna@art-start.org / 212-460-0019
Natalie Brasington, Photographer & Family Portrait Project Producer / firstname.lastname@example.org / 718-213-0846