Before the pandemic my friend Ruth and I used to show up at The Living Room after the hot lunch was served, and armed with our bags of art supplies, lead an expressive arts group. One of the women who would drop in was Grace. She usually had to leave early to pick up her kids at school, though at least once I remember she was able to bring her daughter with her.
I was impressed with how competent she seemed, even in the midst of what I knew was a housing crisis similar to that of the other women. She would sit down, immediately engage in the art with little need for instruction, express her gratitude for the opportunity and be on her way before we wrapped up.
Months later I ran into her outside The Living Room and she agreed to share her story for the portrait project.
She was housed and juggling a demanding schedule of work and childcare with the added element of supervising Zoom instruction for two children at home. We finally found some time to talk so I could hear her story. As with all the portrait stories I’ve done, the final story that goes with the art piece is a seriously abbreviated portion of a person’s life.
To see more of the portraits in the series “This is My Story: Women and Homelessness” you may visit the exhibit on the Santa Rosa Arts website.
If you’d like to know more about The Living Room in the context of constantly changing needs in the homeless community, watch this video which presents a look at their open-hearted response to the pandemic!