Open Doors CLE Displays Doors Decorated by Homeless People

by Kelly McKay

A project called Open Doors CLE was organized by students from the Cleveland Institute of Art. This project has been created by students from the CIA students, Melinda Zitnick and Ross Brunetti.  Anastasia Soboleva led the project as faculty from CIA as part of the projectFIND Team. Soboleva helped last year with the mural and art exhibit last year with the women sleeping at the Community Women’s Shelter. 

They worked in collaboration with the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and the Cleveland Street Chronicle along with the residents of the two big sheltersThe students from CIA worked closely with the artists who go to the Bishop Cosgrove Center for social service help and now participate in the new art project on the third floor. These two groups of artists joined to put these doors together. The overall aim of this project is to bring attention to homelessness in Cleveland.  “As socially engaged artists, we identified an opportunity to create these connections by exposing the stable housing community to the reality of homelessness through a series of collaborative and interactive installations. These installations are free-standing doors, specifically placed in public locations of importance to the homeless community,” according to Melinda Zitnick of the projectFIND team.

Other goals of this project according to the CIA team included creating relationships and dialogue between those in stable housing and those in the homeless community, while actively giving the homeless a voice. The design was to place old doors, donated by those living in stable housing, into public areas. The symbolism of these doors is varied, yet accurate to those facing homelessness. They represented both estrangement and relation between those without housing and those with housing. The doors served as symbols of the security, possession, and warmth of a home. The projectFIND Team artists and residents of Cleveland’s homeless shelters worked together to develop ideas and portray them. Diverse forms of art were incorporated when renovating the doors, including photographs, handwritten material, and newspaper clippings from the Cleveland Street Chronicle.

By shedding light on those in the homeless community and local advocacy groups, the project accurately conveyed information to the public. “I am very excited about this project and feel it will be very effectual in communicating how important it is to properly address homelessness,” said Ramona Turnbull of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless who helped to gather material from the Street Chronicle vendors to appear on the door. “A lot of people know nothing about homelessness and would like to know. Also, I believe everyone should know about this growing epidemic,” she explained.  The doors were displayed at Willard Park in Downtown Cleveland at the end of May. 

Along with this display, there was a local memorial for Michael Stoops from the National Coalition for the Homeless who had passed away in early May at Willard Park on May 27th.