When artist Jeff Horn sat down with the first of his homeless subjects in 1992, his vision was simple: interpret and reveal the personality of the people who agreed to have their portrait drawn from life. At first, the men and women who congregated at Episcopal Services Alliance felt they might be demeaned, but this all changed after the first drawing was complete. The dignity and authenticity of the portraits Jeff Horn created reveal a depth of humanity that connects every one of us, regardless of our race, our beliefs, or, most poignantly, whether or not our homes have doors.
As the work progressed, Jeff began to realize that the process of making the drawings was cathartic, both for him and for the sitter. As Jeff writes in the Foreword of In Our Eyes In Our Words:
“I realized my drawings mean more than catching their likeness. For my homeless subjects these portraits were an acknowledgment of their existence; something they seldom felt.”
As Jeff realized his subject often were willing to share stories from their lives, he began handing each a piece of paper with an invitation to write something about their experiences on the street. These handwritten statements, reproduced alongside the portrait of the person who wrote them and transcribed in many cases for readability, offer us a direct, first-hand look into the life of the homeless person whose eyes convey what mere words never could.
“Of all the things I have done artistically, I am most proud of this endeavor. I hope that all who view this portfolio of drawings will sense their common humanity with those on the street.”
— Jeff Horn, October 2017
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