The stark reality of New York City's homeless is too often forgotten. Some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers risk becoming merely a statistic -- one of the 3,000 people sleeping on the street each night, or one of the record high 50,000 people crowding into shelters.
While Mayor Michael Bloomberg and homeless advocates spar publicly, loudly blaming each other for a troubling surge in the city's homeless population, the cries of the actual homeless seem to go unheard.
A new initiative, the Starving Artists Project, is hoping to return the attention to those very cries by showcasing the messages written by the homeless themselves. By displaying photos of the homeless adjacent to their signs, the project reframes the scribbled messages too often ignored on the street, to become works of art.
Creators Nick Zafonte and Thompson Harrell explain:
Everyday the homeless reach out through the only means they have, scraps of cardboard and their own creativity. The problem is we don’t ever look, seeing their messages as an interruption to our day. Our mission and solution was to change the way society interprets their messages - by presenting their signs as art, allowing their own voices to inspire meaningful action.
By teaming up with photographer Andrew Zuckerman, the initiative hopes to shed light on the homeless community's struggles and empower those who can help, to do so.
Check out the photos below. Starving Artists encourages people to donate to the New York City Coalition Against Hunger.
(All photos by Andrew Zuckerman.)