Homeless people's signs permeate art exhibition to raise awareness about their plight

Justin Udo
September 20, 2018 - 5:37 pm
Willie Baronet, an artist and professor, purchased signs from the homeless people that they used to pander for money and turned them into a hanging art instillation.

Thomas Jefferson University

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — An unlikely form of art has taken center stage at Thomas Jefferson University.
 
Over the summer, Rosemary Frasso and nine of her students from the university's medical school and public health program interviewed 40 homeless people in Philadelphia.

"Our goal was to really try to understand what the interactions between passersby and folks in need are like," she said.

Willie Baronet, an artist and professor, purchased signs from the homeless people that they used to pander for money. 

"Some of the signs here are serious, there are funny signs, but most of the signs are truthful, I believe," he added.

He then turned them into a hanging art instillation, which is currently on display at Jefferson.

"Getting those in front of people gave others a chance to react to them without the awkwardness of having a person behind it," he noted.

Willie Baronet, an artist and professor, purchased signs from the homeless people that they used to pander for money and turned them into a hanging art instillation.
Thomas Jefferson University

Willie Baronet, an artist and professor, purchased signs from the homeless people that they used to pander for money and turned them into a hanging art instillation.
Thomas Jefferson University

For Kaélla Edwards and Steven Buffer, this project was a chance to give life to something they see every day.

"These are real people asking for real things and it's a real life that's behind the sign," said Edwards.

"That's not just some homeless person," echoed Buffer. "That's John, that's Carrie, that's Tim. That's somebody that could be your friend or your neighbor or your coworker."

Data from the interviews are being compiled and analyzed.

The exhibit, which is on the fourth floor of the Dorrance H. Hamilton Building on Locust Street, is free and open to the public. It runs until Sunday.