Face To Face Opens to Warm Reception

            Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, (NEOCH) in conjunction with Creative Impetus Gallery (CIG) and AT&T Wireless, presented Face to Face: Portraits of Homeless People in Cleveland, an exhibition of photographs by Cleveland-based photographer David Hagen. Unlike many pictures of homeless people that capture the dark desolation of their plight, Face to Face presents a collection of portraits of homeless people taken in the warm light of the studio that features the full of life and color of the models.

            Hagen’s talent for engaging and getting to know each subject before shooting exposes the real person under layers of protective armor. Each deeply moving portrait challenges our comfortable assumption that homeless people are somehow different than “us” or that their homeless condition is due to their own shortcomings, not a failure in the societal safety net. But as you look into the eyes of the men, women and children in Hagen’s portraits, you see the essence of each person. Hagen’s work provides the viewer with a unique opportunity to truly see homelessness, face to face.

            “I wanted to photograph the homeless population in a way that might make them look just like you, your father, mother, brother, sister, friend or neighbor,” says Hagen. “These are complex people in a challenging world, struggling to find happiness.”

            Hagen’s work is a new and significant voice in the dialogue surrounding homelessness in Cleveland, that forces us to see that homeless people are as diverse, interesting and beautiful as the rest of us.

            The gallery exhibit opened with a reception on Friday, June 27. CIG Gallery is located at on Church Street near West 25th St. across the street from the CMHA application’s office. The people who are the subject of David Hagen’s portraits were present to share their stories and their smiles.

            The exhibit will travel around to the sanctuaries of various religious organizations over the next year to educate the public about homelessness. For a copy of the Face to Face booklet call or e-mail NEOCH at 216/432-0540 or neoch@neoch.org .

Copyright of the Homeless Grapevine Cleveland Ohio in September 2003 Issue 62.