I had finished an interview with someone at a bus stop when a disheveled man with belongings in bags asked what I was working on. I explained the project, and he asked, “Can anyone do it?” I’m so grateful he asked because his answers were among the most forthcoming and powerful exchanges in the collection.
His response to the question about where were you when you felt safest and why may never leave my heart. Everything he shared was so genuinely honest and personal, and he was so kind and generous toward me and the work I was doing.
Of the thirteen people I interviewed in this collection, this man seemed to be grounded in a way I didn’t notice in others. I’ve told friends about him and struggled to articulate the feeling I sensed, but maybe as a man living on the street, he embodies the idea that all we need is within ourselves. He didn’t say anything specific about this in his very surprising and beautiful answers, but I think the lesson was between the lines. With so much stigma surrounding where this man lives or doesn’t live, he clearly resides someplace we could all get to know better.
Austin, TX, December 10, 2020
Oil on Linen
24 x 30 inches
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