On a one night count in 2018, 12,112 people in King County were experiencing homelessness. This sculpture – mobile, tumultuous, kinetic – speaks to the immediacy of the homelessness crisis we currently face in Seattle.
Homelessness is a problem without an easy fix. We may see it at a distance, but resist looking closer, resist empathizing with our neighbors living without shelter, because it can be chaotic and overwhelming to think about.
People experiencing homelessness are without housing for many, often overlapping, reasons rooted in systemic failures. While factors like economics, housing, mental health, and substance abuse contribute to homelessness, the common denominator is poverty.
Here are some statistics that might surprise you:
Rent in Seattle has grown by 43% since 2009. More than half of all people who are evicted in Seattle owe less than one month’s rent.
40% of Americans are not able to cover a $400 emergency expense.
About 25% of people experiencing homelessness struggle with substance abuse, while about 40% have psychiatric or emotional conditions, and more than half report having a condition that is disabling to the point of preventing them from employment and stable housing.
Homelessness is not a choice. When asked, 98% of people experiencing homelessness said they would move into safe and affordable housing if it were offered.
Those experiencing homelessness often report feeling unseen, unheard. This sculpture screams to be seen and heard, pulls focus, demands your attention.
In the summer of 2017, Path with Art Student Artists with lived experience of homelessness, led by Teaching Artists Trimpin, Yonnas Getahun, and Michelle de la Vega, began collaboratively envisioning, designing, and creating this kinetic sound sculpture.
The base of the wagon was built by Trimpin's father during his childhood in 1950s Germany, to which he added found materials and instruments, including organ pipes from the old Town Hall building, a bass drum, bells and more. After the basic structure was built, Path with Art students came in to create original poetry, visual artwork, and the music, with each facet drawing inspiration from the previous, as well as the theme: Hear & Now.
The Artists were prompted to convey the experience of living without a place to call home, with the intention of building empathy across social and cultural boundaries. Hear & Now is a metaphor for being in constant transition, and attempts to translate the chaos of living in homelessness.
"As a Soundartist, teaching was always a satisfying experience working with students sharing ideas, concepts and knowledge. Having the opportunity engaging with Path with Art students gave me even more expanded purpose to share and collaborate on Sound Art projects. All of the participants from various disciplines in this class can explore and express their talent in a variety of ways. It is not only the students who benefit from this, I am just fortunate and grateful to have this experience to work with all of them." - Trimpin