Starting April 2nd, I will be living at the Lotus House Women’s Shelter for one month as an artist in residence. Lotus House provides shelter and support for women and children in need. Situated in the heart of the Overtown neighborhood of Miami, the shelter serves over 100 women and children daily who are homeless, whether due to domestic violence, medical or health issues, disabilities, loss of employment or other economic reasons. Women and children are permitted to live for up to a year, accessing wrap-around support services and a wide range of educational, job readiness, and community resources.
In an attempt to experience displacement and gain a deeper understanding of the women’s reality, I will spend a month at the Lotus House Women’s Shelter, arriving as the women do, with few belongings. Here I will follow the check-in procedures, gain understanding of the rules and regulations the women follow, and settle into a month long study of shelter life. I aim to experience life during my stay as authentically as possible. As an artist in residence, I will create a piece of art as a response to this experience.
The idea to live at the shelter came to me as a reaction to my own overwhelming feelings of helplessness regarding the country’s hurting economy, the toll it has taken on the poor, and systemic disregard for the homeless. My response as a performance artist is always to bring everything to the body as a way to understand. As a fortunate outsider, I strive to gainer a deeper understanding of these issues, how they affect the less fortunate, and to increase awareness about homelessness. I see this next month as a deep exercise in empathy. I do not know what the outcome of the stay will be, but I am open to its possibilities. Gandhi said, “You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no results.”