‘Bed Shoe Home’ collaborates with homeless for inclusive art

Beds+and+pillows+made+out+of+aluminum+foiled+was+created+by+Jane+Gilmor+for+an+art+exhibit+called+%22Bed+Shoe+Home%3A+Poverty+and+Homelessness+in+Champaign-Urbana%22+at+the+University+YMCA.
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‘Bed Shoe Home’ collaborates with homeless for inclusive art

Beds and pillows made out of aluminum foiled was created by Jane Gilmor for an art exhibit called

Beds and pillows made out of aluminum foiled was created by Jane Gilmor for an art exhibit called "Bed Shoe Home: Poverty and Homelessness in Champaign-Urbana" at the University YMCA.

Photo courtesy of Jane Gilmor

Beds and pillows made out of aluminum foiled was created by Jane Gilmor for an art exhibit called "Bed Shoe Home: Poverty and Homelessness in Champaign-Urbana" at the University YMCA.

Photo courtesy of Jane Gilmor

Photo courtesy of Jane Gilmor

Beds and pillows made out of aluminum foiled was created by Jane Gilmor for an art exhibit called "Bed Shoe Home: Poverty and Homelessness in Champaign-Urbana" at the University YMCA.

By Mary Kate Kiley, Staff writer

The University YMCA will host an art exhibit titled “BED SHOE HOME” by Jane Gilmor, a visual artist and art professor at Mount Mercy University. The exhibit will open Thursday and run until March 17.

The exhibit will feature a collection of beds decorated with blankets and pillows. These, however, are not ordinary beds; they are made of metal — even the bedding. Oversized metal books with quotations and drawings will be displayed on the other side of the exhibit. Each piece depicts the struggles faced by people who are homeless.

Members of the YMCA worked on the exhibit since last semester alongside  homeless individuals. Gilmor said the project helps give people who are homeless a “sense of community.” She also said it helps the campus connect with people who are homeless as well.

“This piece is to bring attention and to give voice for the homeless and people who work for them (such as Daily Bread),” Gilmor said.

Gilmor began her socially engaged art during the ’80s and has done a number of projects including one in Washington D.C. for the National Coalition for Homelessness.

Her project in Champaign began as a favor for a friend who works for the Center for Advanced studies. Starting last year, Gilmor came to campus to give talks about her project and recruit volunteers. She has collaborated with organizations such as the Courage Connection, Daily Bread and the Phoenix Drop-In Center.

“We worked everyday, all day and had workshops with the centers,” Gilmor said.

The project is hosted at the YMCA in order to include the entire Champaign community, including people who are homeless who helped make this project possible.

“It’s based at the Y because it should be accessible to the public, not just students. It allows homeless people to come because it is not as intimidating,” Gilmor said.

Ann Rasmus, art coordinator at the YMCA, is excited to premiere the “BED SHOE HOME” exhibit. She has been in charge of organizing art exhibits concerning social justice, the environment and other global issues. She said this is the most ambitious project yet and will potentially make the largest impact.

“This project is about uplifting the stories of people who often aren’t heard,” Rasmus said.

Rasmus said she hopes the exhibit will raise a lot of awareness about problems of poverty in the C-U area and “will pull people together.”

She anticipates a large student presence at the opening, ranging from a variety of studies such as social work and art and design. Both Rasmus and Gilmor agree this exhibit is very timely and relevant to the local issues of the community, especially after the closing of two shelters in the area and the diminishing resources for the homeless.

The exhibit will open one week before Champaign’s annual homeless awareness project “One Winter Night.”

“This just goes to show there are several agencies doing good work and trying to raise awareness about this issue,” Rasmus said.

Sairah Jahangir, graduate student in social work, found this event after searching for political activism events around campus. She said her interest in social work and social disparity aligns with the purpose of this art exhibit.

“I have a long history working with underprivileged families who are on the brink of homelessness and families of poverty. The exhibit covers these two topics which are of major interest to me,” Jahangir said.

Jahangir’s involvement in social work makes this event fitting for her career and personal interests. She said she plans to attend the event with her partner who is also interested in these topics.

“I’ve been (involved in social work) for nine years and worked in various capacities of it. I’ve seen how the system works and what contributes to it. It’s a system-wide problem,” Jahangir said.

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