Teens promote awareness of homelessness

Homeless teens are promoting awareness of youth homelessness with six makeshift cardboard homes adorned with pictures and words of what home means to

The mobile exhibit “Home is Where You Make It” is traversing the city and will be at the Walker Art Center at 6:30 p.m. today.

Photographer Lauri Lyons and spoken word artist Tish Jones collaborated with Kulture Klub to create the three-week program so homeless teens could express their ideas of home through words and photographs. Lyons and youth will give a free public presentation about the project at the Walker showing.

Lyons and Jones prepared youth for the project with writing exercises and the basics of photography as a means of expressing their ideas of home.

Then, over the course of three days, they all drove around the Twin Cities going to places the teens chose to document, and started shooting. Pictures included abandoned houses, flowers, teens and their friends, strangers, old neighbors, or their eyes and hands.

The black and white photos were enlarged, mounted on cardboard and made into makeshift houses on the street. Teenagers worked with an architect to construct 5-feet by 7-feet cardboard houses out of materials used commonly by nomadic families.

Written narratives of the teens articulating their ideas of “home” decorate the house walls. The representations of home centered on relationships rather than physical structures.

In accompaniment to the sculptures, a book featuring the portraits and handwritten texts of each teen will elaborate on the their interpretation of home and their experiences of homelessness. Fifty books are being printed and distributed to participants. The books are available for purchase online at http://www.kultureklub.org/home.html.

Kulture Klub is an independent nonprofit arts organization that brings together artists and homeless teens at YouthLink/Project OffStreets, a crisis drop-in-center. Teens develop creative expression through workshops, open mics, and cultural presentations.

Artists working with Kulture Klub include sculptors, photographers, dancers, writers, directors, poets, painters, vocalists, musicians, beat boxers, visual artists and filmmakers. Lyon is one of a few photographers who contribute their time and talents.