“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” – Maya Angelou
Inside the Woolworth Windows at S. 11th St. & Broadway, the sun beams so brightly over a painted cityscape that a passerby can almost feel its warmth emanate through the glass. The mural, entitled Everyone Needs A Place To Call Home, is a project of the nonprofit organization, Shared Housing Services, and was commissioned by Spaceworks Tacoma.
The public artwork comes at a time when Mayor Marilyn Strickland has declared an emergency state for Tacoma homeless, and launched an initiative to help get people off the street and into transitional housing.
Everyone Needs A Place To Call Home depicts a vibrant Tacoma skyline with signage that provides a brief overview of SHS’s shared-housing programs and services. The goal of this striking art installation is to engage passersby with awareness of how they can participate in solving the homelessness crisis. Founded in 1991, SHS’s mission is “Connecting people and fostering independence through innovative and affordable housing,” said Executive Director, Mark Merrill. SHS board member Lynn Pollock conceived the idea for the mural, which combines Tacoma’s landscape, waterfront and imaginative housing in bright swaths of color. Professional artist and long-time SHS supporter Nadine Hamil, with support from fellow artist, Amanda L. Gamble, led the mural project.
“We were compelled to create art that was colorful, fun and eye-catching for SHS,” said Hamil. “They support the community through adult home-sharing services while reducing homelessness. We were happy to promote them through such a vibrant piece.”
Painted in broad strokes, Everyone Needs A Place To Call Home undulates with intense shades of cobalt, purple, red, orange, and yellow. Tacoma appears as a place of hope, where blue waves crest at the foot of fantastical buildings, and despair is eclipsed by a brilliant orange sun. Gamble and Hamil spent approximately 40 hours creating the mural. It took 15 volunteers seven hours to paint just the skyline in the artwork.
In January of this year, a Pierce County Point-in-Time (PIT) Count put the number of Tacoma homeless at 1,321.
“The PIT count is just a snapshot and most people agree that a more realistic number would be 5-6 times the number that was counted,” said Miller.
The art installation includes information about the benefits of public participation in shared-housing programs, as well as several testimonials from SHS clients, including this one: “At last I have a safe, secure and positive place to call home! I even have somewhere to hang my clothes! Finally! My life looks very bright now and I have hope again.” It’s a reminder that having a safe and dry place to sleep is something that thousands of people locally don’t take for granted.
– Lisa Kinoshita
Artscape: Everyone Needs A Place To Call Home is on view at the Woolworth Windows, on Broadway, & S. 11th St. , through November 4, 2017.