Here is a chance to see art, learn the stories about people affected by homelessness, and become more aware about the current situation and the increase in homeless people in Melbourne. It is only by being aware and helping to bring action about that the situation will improve.
I AM is an exhibition of artwork created by artists who are, or have experienced homelessness. In this way, by viewing the art and hearing stories through the art, viewers are encouraged to become aware of what homelessness actually means to the people affected by it. Displayed in the Apollo Cafe, a great space with brick walls and an ambience of rusticity and warmth all at the same time, the art brings us closer to the artists. They all have a story to tell, of themselves - hence the I AM, they all have taken up the agency of showing who they are through their art. Yes, they have all experienced homelessness at one time or another, but that is not what defines them. Each piece of art tells us a little bit about each artist and their homelessness experience.
The aim of the exhibition is to display and sell the artwork, 100% of which go to the artist, but there is another major aim; to bring awareness to the issue of homelessness. There is information displayed about the staggering increase in homelessness among the young population of Melbourne and particularly so in the west. Melbourne has a problem and very little seems to be done presently by governments to alleviate this dire situation.
The project, organised by Wombat Housing & Support Services, in collaboration with Melbourne-based social enterprise HoMie, saw the artists embark on "a stencil art workshop run by Artist – Man of Darkness from Blender Studios, which provided them with creative workshops for self-expression in a safe and supported environment'' (Lenka Brazda, Team leader at Wombat).
Visitors are encouraged to sign a petition and/or send postcards to their local MPs to do something, the motto of the campaign being " Every Victorian should have a home". No matter what your political persuasion may be, the situation of homelessness is one that should not be happening in Australia at this time. A group of young artists are doing their part to highlight this through their art, now it's up to us to join them in whatever way we can. In the words of one of the artists, people who are experiencing homelessness don't want our pity, they need our help and action.