Art

Homeless youth: Photo exhibit on display tonight shows their world, through their eyes

A Face to Reframe is an organization out of Fort Collins that uses photography to empower marginalized populations by giving them cameras in order to capture their world -- as they see it, not as others do. Last week, the cameras were in the hands of five homeless youth in Denver, and tonight, their work will be on display.

The photographers were identified through Prax(us), a Denver organization that supports youth who are at risk of being exploited for sex or labor.

"Usually, we assign a role to our youth and our participants, and this time, we really wanted to give them all the power to make the decisions and really show who they were," says Lianna Marciniec, a community outreach worker with Prax(us).

The youth took photos over two days. The first day, they captured images that reflect who they are as individuals. The next day, organizers asked them to "brainstorm a common message they'd like to send to a larger audience," says Beth Bruno of A Face to Reframe.

But that wasn't easy, Bruno says. The youth, she says, explained that everyone's experience on the streets is different. "They did kind of come up with somewhat of a photo essay," she notes, "but really what it is is an expression of individuality."

One of the first images in the essay is a photo of a sculpture of steel boots, which Bruno says the youth took to represent that most people don't understand what it's like to walk in their shoes. "That's kind of the theme," she says. "Each of our individual lives and our daily struggles is individual and unique to who we are. Our goals in life are different."

From 7 to 9 p.m. tonight at Gypsy House Cafe, 1279 Marion Street, the photos will be on display in an exhibit called "Uncovering Faces." Some of the youth may be there, as well. For a preview, check out the shots below, complete with captions written by the youth.

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar