The latest exhibit in the Peter Youngers Art Gallery at Northeastern Junior College is shining a light on homelessness.
“Invisible People,” an exhibition by Annabel Attridge highlighting the humanity of those left behind by late capitalism, is on display through March 10. Featuring a series of photographs Attridge collected while working on her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Northern Colorado, the exhibit highlights images and portraits surrounding homelessness in Colorado.
“Intentionally provocative” is how gallery director Will Ross describes the images. “They are striking black and white photographs which in my estimation ask the viewer to contemplate the humanity of the people that are featured, rather than turn away or ignore as may be the unfortunate and more common response.”
Attridge, an NJC graduate, is a photographer from Northwest Denver. Her work centers around the everyday world around her and combines fine art and street art sensibility.
According to her bio, Attridge’s work is from the perspective of a neurodivergent woman in a world that was not built for people like her. The themes in her photography reflect that sentiment.
Attridge’s work has been shown regionally in over 20 exhibitions nationally and internationally, garnered multiple awards, and is featured in multiple new outlets.
With regards to this exhibit, Attridge notes that more U.S. cities have made it illegal to be homeless, with 53% of cities having made it illegal to sit or lie down in public, a 43% increase since 2011. All of these laws are being enacted, although many homeless people have no alternatives. It’s estimated that a minimum of 750,000 people are homeless in the United States, while about 17 million housing units are empty in the United States.
“This problem will only be growing as more people struggle to pay bills during a global pandemic and beyond. Poverty has become a crime while wealth hoarding is being valorized as moral. It is long past the time where the treatment of those capitalism has failed as less than human. It is time that we the working class stand up for those with even less power than us and turn our contempt towards those in power who perpetuate the cycle of wealth inequality. It is time that they paid their fair share of taxes or get up against the wall!” Attridge said.
She points out that no one chooses to be homeless, no one decides that they are not going to have a home, it is something that is too often thrust upon them when one tragedy strikes.
The subject of another one of her photos, Luran in Denver, seems to have completely given up saying “I’m going to die in this tent…It didn’t matter that my eviction was illegal no one cares about people like me.”
Attridge argues that the majority of Americans cannot handle a $400 emergency expense “because our social safety net has been systematically destroyed by Republicans, conservatives, and moderates. We are facing a crisis.”
But, there are things that can be done.
“We could change laws to expand those social safety nets and admit that if we are the richest country in the world, things such as health care, housing, clean water, food, and education are human rights, instead of going into endless wars and spending 753.5 billion dollars each year just on the military, a good chunk of which goes missing each year without any accountability of where it has gone. Instead of allowing megachurches to bring in record profits each year without being taxed, we could make every church and house of worship in the United States pay their fair share of taxes,” Attridge said.
“The the United States is the only country not to ensure that all of its citizens have a baseline of health care education and standard of living. We are the only country that limits unionization and retaliates against low-wage workers for speaking up against the inequalities that they face each day. We are the only country in the industrialized world to criticize socialism while giving bailouts, subsidies, and tax breaks to some of the wealthiest people in the world,” she says, arguing that “The rich are not job creators, they are wealth hoarders and it is time that we as the working class stopped fighting each other and stopped looking down upon those who have it worse than us and admit that we cannot claim to be the greatest country in the world if we allow our most vulnerable to sleep out on the streets and then claim that they just needed to work harder.”
Attridge will be at the gallery for an artist talk on Wednesday, March 2, starting at 6 p.m. To learn more about her work, visit her website at www.annabelattridgephotography.com.