Adult homeless people from Bucharest have mounted their first painting and graphic art exhibition: “Who are We?”.
Adult homeless people from Bucharest have succeeded in mounting their first painting and graphic art exhibition: “Who are We?”. The exhibitors were some of the beneficiaries of the project themed “People Through Art”, run by the Samusocial Association from Romania.
In the special setting offered by the Romana Gallery in Bucharest, 11 of the participants, homeless people, were very happy to exhibit paintings depicting their personal experiences. The paintings were covered in rags before the inauguration, and visitors had the opportunity to unveil them, to discover the universe of those people as well as the secrets of a world that surrounds us, but which we don’t have enough time to take notice of.
The coordinator of the “People Through Art” project, visual arts educator Anca Florea, who also works as a volunteer for Samusocial, told us how it all started and how the project progressed.
“It was my idea to initiate the project, I also wanted to work with other categories of people, to do something which is different from what we normally do. And it seemed to me the homeless have got potential. I met some of those people in private, people who could have done something in the field of arts. And I thought there might be more such people. And then, the idea crossed my mind, to initiate such a project. Then I approached Samusocial and named the project “People Through Art”. They already had an occupational workshop project, where all sorts of decorative objects were manufactured. They called some people and we decided to have a workshop focussing on art for art’s sake, painting and graphic art. We did some art only for personal development and in order to develop people’s expression capacity and artistic skills. It exceeded my expectations, we found people who were more open and willing to do things.”
The exhibition challenges us to know the others, to discover them as creators of beauty. Taking a look at the exhibited works, we just cannot help wondering who we are and what qualities lay dormant in our psyche. As for Anca Florea’s experience with the people who were summoned for Samusocial’s art workshops, it came out as a telling example of man’s ultimate need for beauty. Anca Florea told us something about a man who attended the workshop only once.
”I popped in, one morning, and he was already there, we introduced ourselves to one another. I asked him where he slept overnight and he told me he didn’t sleep, he had been walking. Because it was very cold, we had a ringing frost. And that touched me deeply: he had been walking all night so as not to die of cold and yet, he was there. And he didn’t complain for a single moment. I gave the workshop assignment, it was a technical assignment, he stopped for a while and suddenly said, ‘give me a sheet of paper so that I can make you a beautiful drawing’. And I was so impressed with the fact that that man, having suffered so much, felt the need to do something beautiful. I think all of us have such a need, when we suffer, to compensate with something beautiful. And that seemed to me very relevant for what I do in my workshop.”
We asked Anca Florea what she thought of her students and how she drove them into discovering art :
”I found them really nice. A bit more reluctant, in the beginning. I was a bit more reluctant as well, as I hadn’t had such an experience before, it was for the first time when I worked with homeless people. But they were also very perceptive and very open, and with a very pleasant atmosphere in the studio. Which means that I had a good time working with them, we cracked a joke or two, we laughed, we also did our job, I really had a good time in their company and they are the respectful type, they are people with whom you can get on, and with whom you can work. In my guiding efforts, I tried to get each of them find their own direction and their own style, I got them find topics for their paintings and drawings themselves. As that’s what a work of art is about, it’s about putting something of you in there. And I tried to get them initiate their own pursuit and find those things which are important to them. So it was entirely up to them to find topics to that effect. Furthermore, I tried to give them some craftsmanship tips. When I work in personal development workshops I try to get people find their own direction. They have already built their own style. They work together, but they have their own style and I think that’s something important, being able to find your own way of expression.”
One of the exhibiting artists is Liviu Lucian Marcu. He spoke about his paintings, which stemmed from his love for life, just like the titles of his works reveal, “The table of noise”, or “The cherry-merry scumbag.”
”All my life I was a drunkard, I loved life … so, I am somehow the opposite of Brancusi: I am a Moldavian, he is from Oltenia, he has ‘The Table of Silence’, I have ‘The Table of Noise’. In my mind, that table should have had glasses turned upside down, drunkards, tape recorders, a drunkard sleeping on the table. I couldn’t paint them all, since I found it hard to do that, and it also was my first ever such work. I shall further develop it in the near future, I hope. The works I have done, I shall start them all over again. This time I’ll be doing the work properly.”
In his turn, Bogdan Florin Ionescu paints faces.
“I painted people, our folks, people I met in the painting studio. I had never painted before. At first I thought it was some sort of play and I relaxed. While playing, I got to like it.”
Some 20 people turned up for the workshop, but there were not more than 4 of them in the studio constantly, and they were not always the same. As for exhibitors, they were 11, the organizer of the “People Through Art “project has told us. That happens because, at the state-run soup kitchens, people were having their meals served at different times, so they were unable to turn up for the workshops constantly. But when they show up, they put in a lot of joy and thirst for the beautiful when they paint.