Students in Ali Stewart-Ito’s Honors American Literature class were asked to create a graphic vignette that makes visible someone, something, or some intangible concept that has been “disappeared,” or is otherwise “invisible.” Accompanying the graphic, students wrote statements of intent explaining what they tried to make visible, why they chose that topic, and how their image brings the subject matter to light. To make the students’ topics even more visible and to bring the topics more attention, The Cardinal is publishing a few of the impressive final products. Here is one of them:
In my graphic vignette I chose to focus on the issue of homelessness because it is such a manifest issue in society today that often gets swept under the rug, especially in large cities like ours where homelessness has become so ubiquitous. Many of us are admittedly guilty of passing by those hapless individuals who are in need of help without a second thought. It might be the homeless person on the sidewalk, the mentality disabled sitting in the park, or people we find less than appealing.
Either way, a large majority of people choose to or unwittingly ignore the homeless because it is easier to divert our eyes than to acknowledge their presence. Likewise, many people have become desensitized to a person asking for help, begging for food, or wanting simple “hello.” Rather, they are often treated as nuisances or paltry distractions, and still fade into oblivion despite living in busy metropolises.
I feel like this is much to do with the general perception of homeless people, which is the idea that that they deserve what they get, they haven’t worked hard, they’re lazy, or they’re just looking for a handout. However, what is most perplexing is the audacity of how some people vacillate between wanting to help the homeless and choosing to ignore them in public.
In my image, I chose to draw a homeless man asking for help. His rudimentary sign reads “Please Help. Homeless & Broke. All my belongings have been stolen…clothing, blankets, personals.” I then placed him in front of a window display for retail store. The clothes in the display are advertising for a wedding, which is supposed to be a joyous occasion. However, the man in sitting on the sidewalk in front of the display is anything but joyous. He doesn’t have items such as clothes and blanket, while ironically there is a clothing store right behind him. Instead, he is reduced to asking complete strangers for help. The point of this is to show the faults in our society and how many people fall through the cracks.