The Way Home: Ending Homelessness in America
Through the lenses of 13 American photographers, homelessness and its solutions are brought to light in surprising and touching ways. The Way Home: Ending Homelessness in America showcased approximately 150 poignant images by many well-known photographers: Jodi Cobb, Donna Ferrato, Ben Fernandez, Betsy Frampton, Tipper Gore, Annie Leibovitz, Mary Ellen Mark, Eli Reed, Joseph Rodriguez, Stephen Shames, Callie Shell, Diana Walker, and Clarence Williams.
The Way Home was organized in partnership with the National Alliance to End Homelessness. It follows the exhibition Homeless in America, a 1988 project at the Corcoran, organized by the National Mental Health Association and Families for the Homeless, which drew attention to the human drama of homelessness. This project featured a startling diversity of Americans affected by homelessness — mothers and children, veterans and runaways, victims of eviction, layoffs and mental illness. The Way Home, by contrast, not only depicts the problems of homelessness but also explores and focuses on lasting solutions.
Co-curators of the exhibition, Philip Brookman, curator of photography and media arts at the Corcoran Gallery of Art and Jane Slate Siena, have invited 13 celebrated photographers—some artists, some photojournalists—to meet homeless citizens in their makeshift dwelling places, and in various forms of interim and permanent housing. Traveling through America's cities, the photographers for The Way Home have recorded homelessness not as a general social condition or charged political issue, but as a personal predicament with which real men and women grapple. From Miami to Seattle, Houston to Chicago, New York to Los Angeles, these artists document homelessness and its solutions with compassionate and incisive eyes.
“One of the roles of the artist in our society is to reflect on the realities of the times. The Way Home extends and builds on this tradition of socially focused art. After all, photography is a powerful tool that helps us make sense of what we see and experience,” says Philip Brookman, Corcoran Curator of Photo/Media Arts. “We encouraged photographers to break cultural and stylistic stereotypes, therefore humanizing homeless people and letting them speak for themselves. The Way Home offers a simple, essential message: homelessness is not a permanent part of American life. It is a complex problem with many causes that can be solved.”
In these images, the photographers show us individual human beings, rather than a faceless, nameless crowd called "the homeless" and reveal that the condition of homelessness has many variants, that the causes have a great range, and that homelessness is a problem, but not a permanent fact of modern life.