CULTURE & ARTS
09/14/2015 08:59 am ET Updated Sep 14, 2015

Portrait Project Depicts Homeless Youth The Way They Want To Be Seen

"At a time when NYC homelessness is at record highs, one of Art Start's missions is to start a dialogue about what it means to be seen."
Featured: "Fleur" Photo by: Natalie Brasington

How do you wish to be seen?

This is the question behind "The Portrait Project," an exhibition celebrating the strength and resilience of individuals and families experiencing homelessness. Organized by Art Start, an organization that uses creative expression as means of empowering marginalized communities, the photographic endeavor hopes to change the standard imagery associated with homeless individuals. 

Featured: Miguel Solano Photo by: David Johnson

For the project, 14 young participants shared their personal stories along with their future hopes and most imaginative dreams. Using video monitors and large-scale photomurals, the subjects then had the opportunity to experience their aspirations and immortalize them in a work of art. Photographers including Adrian Broom, Steve Giralt, Natalie Brasington and David Johnson turn their subject's ambitions into lived dioramas, transforming the models into scientists, pop stars, scuba divers, astronauts and artists. 

Featured: Glenn Photo By: Alina Gozin'a

"At a time when NYC homelessness is at record highs, one of Art Start's missions is to start a dialogue about what it means to be seen," explained Johanna de los Santos, co-executive director for Art Start, in a statement. While the majority of visualizations depicting contemporary homelessness summon feelings of compassion, sympathy and frustration, Art Start hopes to shift the dialogue, celebrating the fortitude and enduring imagination of the pictured individuals, who refuse to let their circumstances define their identities. 

See the beautiful images below. 

  • Featured: "YoungMichael" Photo By: Tom McKenzie
  • Featured: Amber Photo by: David Lang
  • Featrued: "Reine" Photo by: Natalie Brasington
  • Featured: Andy Laureano Photo By: Ken Pao
  • Featured: Nadia Photo by: Josh Dalsimer
  • Featured: Jacob Photo By: David Johnson
  • "Fire" by Steve Girault

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