Category Archives: Homelessness

The Artist Who Believed No Dream Impossible

BY ADIA WHITE

Inocente.

Inocente.


Who says we are defined by our life circumstances? Certainly not fifteen-year old artist Inocente. Despite living homeless and undocumented in San Diego since the age of six, Inocente faces the world with bright spirals painted on the corners of her eyes and large flowers adorning the crown of her head. She paints on whatever canvas she can get her hands on—jeans, tennis shoes, sweatshirt, face.

“Out there in the world, usually things aren’t very colorful, so maybe if they were a little bit more colorful, they’d make people just a little bit more happy,” Says Inocente in the recently released documentary of the same name.

Yet despite her relentless effort to make the world just a little bit brighter for all of us, homelessness and lack of legal documentation have pushed her to the darkest margins of society. Thanks to filmmakers Sean and Andrea Nix Fine, whose documentary, Inocente, follows the journey of this young artist, we can enjoy Inocente’s vivid colors and unique shapes. Their documentary paints a portrait of the challenges faced by homeless and undocumented youth living in the U.S., a portrait as vivid, but not nearly so bright, as Inocente’s paintings.

"If Only They Could See" by Inocente.

“If Only They Could See” by Inocente.


According to the Inocente documentary website, there are 1.5 million homeless youths and 1.8 million undocumented youths living in the U.S. today.  Twenty-five percent of homeless youths witness violence within in their families, a statistical category from which Inocente is not exempt.

Although Inocente’s home life has been bleak, her paintings are anything but.  The colors she paints reflect her passion for life despite the obstacles that come with waking each day. Her optimism comes from a determination to start the day with what makes her most happy, painting.  Each morning she applies her makeup with a paintbrush. Black and red triangles, spirals, or dots accentuate her eyes. Her makeup is a totem of her relentless commitment to pursuing her dreams.

Inocente credits her untamed imagination with the uncanny vibrancy of her art. “I like to look out the window and imagine, what if the trees could talk, or the people had super powers… I have a lot of impossible dreams, but I still dream them.”

Some would have considered Inocente’s appearance on stage at the Oscars last Sunday an impossible dream. Nevertheless, the film her art inspired won the Academy Award for best Documentary Short of 2013. Dressed in an elegant white dress, Inocente entered the stage along with filmmakers Sean and Andrea Nix Fine to receive their Oscar.

While Inocente’s optimism and imagination have prevailed, her success still remains exceptional. Inocente was fortunate enough to belong to A.R.T.S., a program designed to give homeless youths access to the arts. A.R.T.S—an acronym for A Reason To Survive—gave her a place that felt like home and allowed her to fill an otherwise grey world with color. Still, millions of youths endure struggles similar to Inocente’s, and without access to such programs. Funding for public arts education, which gave Inocente a life when she felt she had no other, is often an early target for budget cuts.  Even private, non-profit arts programs struggle to find funding needed to provide their services to youths. For Inocente, arts education allowed the beautiful world she dreamed of survive in her imagination when it could not manifest in her life.

My personal favorite of Inocente’s paintings is entitled “The Lost Planet.” In this piece, multicolored stars glimmer behind mountains garnished with glitter. The Lost Planet is meant to represent a land where children’s dreams reside after they are forsaken. When I see this painting I imagine how many dreams wind up there, dreams abandoned by children whose life circumstances forced them to give up dreaming far too early. Most of all I imagine how so many simple dreams, dreams like having a home, could be prevented from ending up on the lost planet in the first place.

"The Lost Planet" by Inocente.

“The Lost Planet” by Inocente.

The fourth and final Lamp Project promo is here

By The Lamp Project Team

We are extremely proud to be sharing the final installment in our series of four promotional videos. We have produced these to highlight a few important causes—homelessness, in this one—and to tell the world what The Lamp Project is all about. An incredible all-volunteer effort made them possible. Please take a look at the credits below (or at the end of the video) to see all the names.

Follow these links to watch our first, second, and third videos.

CREDITS

Burl Moseley homeless man
Susan Silvestri dancer
Angelo Kritikos photographer
Tami Goveia voice over

Ernie Megerdechian production assistant
Al Ruggie production assistant
Kim Palmer camera assistant

Michael Callahan first assistant director
Matt Miner first assistant director

Nathan Schafer composer

Jason Johnson picture editor

Brandon Proulx assistant sound editor
Jeremy Scott Olsen ADR mixer
Dave Barnaby sound editor / mixer

Thomas Camarda director / director of photography

written by Joanna Lord and Jeremy Scott Olsen

Paula Minardi associate producer
Mike Shields producer
Jeremy Scott Olsen executive producer

Very special thanks
The Brandt Family
Box Eight Studios
Kara Vallow
Fox Television Animation

With great appreciation for our entire all-volunteer cast and crew—and their talent, dedication, professionalism and time
 

© Copyright 2012 by The Lamp Project
All rights reserved

The third Lamp Project promo is now live.

We’ve just released the third in our series of four videos introducing our organization. We made these to highlight a few important causes—this time, homelessness—and to tell the world what The Lamp Project is all about. An incredible all-volunteer effort made them possible. Please take a look at the credits below (or at the end of the video) to see all the names.

Follow these links to watch our second video and our first video. The fourth is coming soon…

CREDITS

Burl Moseley homeless man
Susan Silvestri dancer
Angelo Kritikos photographer
Ryan Scott Self voice over

Ernie Megerdechian production assistant
Al Ruggie production assistant
Kim Palmer camera assistant

Michael Callahan first assistant director
Matt Miner first assistant director

Nathan Schafer composer

Jason Johnson picture editor

Brandon Proulx assistant sound editor
Jeremy Scott Olsen ADR mixer
Dave Barnaby sound editor / mixer

Thomas Camarda director / director of photography

written by Joanna Lord and Jeremy Scott Olsen

Paula Minardi associate producer
Mike Shields producer
Jeremy Scott Olsen executive producer

very special thanks
The Brandt Family
Box Eight Studios
Kara Vallow
Fox Television Animation

with great appreciation for our entire all-volunteer cast and crew—and their talent, dedication, professionalism and time
 

© copyright 2012 by The Lamp Project
all rights reserved

Unmovable: Photos by Kelly Creedon

BY SUSAN CASSIDY

Kelly Creedon ©Stephanie Ewens

There’s an intimacy that comes from seeing people in their homes, surrounded by their possessions. And when people are struggling to hold onto those homes, every detail becomes even more revealing: family photos hanging slightly askew on the walls; a cat curled up on a carefully made bed; household items scattered on countertops—the particulars of day-to-day life that anyone with a roof securely over their head might take for granted. Boston-based documentary photographer Kelly Creedon captures these details in her current project, “We Shall Not Be Moved.” The website and traveling exhibit tell the stories of people in Boston’s working-class and low-income neighborhoods facing foreclosure and eviction in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis. In partnership with community organization City Life/Vida Urbana, Creedon brings these stories to life in color photographs, supplemented by text, audio, and video, capturing the moment in which embattled tenants and homeowners become activists and community leaders.

©Kelly Creedon

In exhibiting her work, Creedon hangs portraits of people in their homes, alone and isolated, followed by images of them meeting with neighbors, sharing their stories, and eventually taking to the streets. The arrangement of images mirrors the journey many of her subjects take as they move beyond their own personal struggles to join a larger movement.

Before diving into the work of photographing this journey, Creedon sat in on weekly meetings at City Life, at which as many as 80 to 100 people gather to share their stories and learn how to help themselves and each other through collective action. She notes that people come to City Life looking for a way to pay an affordable rent or mortgage to stay in their homes—they’re not looking for handouts.

“I don’t think people are dismissing the question of personal responsibility,” Creedon says, “but they come to realize that there was an entire industry that was behaving irresponsibly.”

©Kelly Creedon

When she started creating images for the project, Creedon talked with City Life members like Reggie Fuller and Louanna Hall. As the only remaining tenants in a foreclosed building that has suffered both a fire and a violent assault on the premises, they were at a loss for what to do when neither the landlord nor the bank would take responsibility for the property. Through their involvement with City Life, they have become outspoken advocates for themselves and for others facing housing displacement, taking part in organized protests throughout Boston.

Marshall Cooper, 75, followed a similar trajectory from hopelessness and frustration to inspiration and a sense of purpose. As the primary caregiver for his ailing parents, he was unable to keep up with the rapidly rising mortgage payments on his house, which went into foreclosure in 2010. But Cooper has refused to leave his home. Working with a legal defense team, he’s fighting to stay there. He has also become a community leader through his collaboration with City Life, which he refers to as his family. Creedon says that even members who lose the fight to keep their own homes often continue working with the organization, because of the relationships they’ve built with others in the community.

“We Shall Not Be Moved” has traveled throughout Boston and New York, providing further opportunities for people to get their stories heard—many of the individuals who appear in Creedon’s work attend the exhibits and speak to attendees. Creedon says this is one of the most rewarding parts of the project.

“I really enjoy watching people see themselves on the wall in a gallery, or hear their own story in a presentation,” she says. “In seeing themselves reinterpreted that way, through someone else’s eyes, they have a different understanding of the power that they have, that their story has and their voice has. It’s a powerful thing to witness the way people transform through that relationship.”

©Kelly Creedon

Creedon is looking to take “We Shall Not Be Moved” on the road to cities in the South and Midwest, and she’s also at work on new projects that will explore the faces and stories behind issues like workers’ and immigrants’ rights.

“The majority of people I’m documenting aren’t in the mainstream narrative we’re seeing in the media and the press,” Creedon says. “They appreciate that someone would take the time to ask them to tell their story and to lift up their story in a public way…and I really like being the person who gets to show up and ask those questions.”

©Kelly Creedon

We Shall Not Be Moved | http://weshallnotbemoved.net/