Vancouver Youth Raise Awareness of Homelessness Through Art

Table of Contents


"As a group, we wanted to help, to make a difference...Through the Politics of Space, we hope to have our voices heard to raise awareness for an issue deserving attention and aid," explained Mary Grace, one of the students involved in a project organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery, Pacific Cinmathque and King George secondary school.

The Politics of Space was an innovative installation and video project that gave students an opportunity to understand, and help alleviate, homelessness in their community by building shelters for the homeless. The projects was funding, in part, by 2010 Legacies Now's Innovations program.

In May of 2006, a group of students attended a three-day residency program at the Vancouver Art Gallery, discussing homelessness and the politics of space. The students met homeless youth who talked about their need for shelters, as well as artists Brian Jungen, Krystof Wodiczko, Lucy Orta and the Mad Housers, who have created homeless shelters as art.

Working with Hobey Walker, an industrial designer from Mountain Equipment Co-Op, the students built prototypes of portable home shelters which Walker then made into life-size forms. The shelters, along with a 10-minute, student-made video documenting the entire process, were exhibited at the Roundhouse, the World Urban Forum Festival, St. Paul's Hospital and Vancouver City Hall.

As a result of their participation in this project, the students have become politically active. They made a powerful and persuasive presentation to their school about their experiences with the project and their concerns about homelessness. They also acted as mentors for Grade 8 students creating public art projects. One of the students who worked on the video became passionate about film-making and plans to study film at university.

2010 Legacies Now contributed funds to the Politics of Space through the Innovations program, which helps arts organizations create new opportunities for community members to participate in arts and cultural activities.

Innovations invests in arts, cultural and heritage organizations wishing to create new opportunities for community members to participate in arts and cultural activities. The program is supported by the Province of British Columbia.