News Column

Homeless artists showcased at Downtown event

June 28, 2014

By Katie Fretland, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn.

June 28--Homeless Organizing for Power & Equality -- HOPE for short -- held its first art exhibition Friday night at the KOART Gallery in Downtown.

The event showcased the stories, paintings, poetry and photography of the homeless and formerly homeless.

Marcus Mitchell, 34, created a display of spray painted wine bottles.

In one piece, he glued pieces of brown and green plates to form a broken road climbing out of the bottle.

Bobby Jo Horner, 31, made necklaces, bracelets and earrings with beads and strong wire.

"It won't break," she said.

She began making jewelry about five years ago.

"When I was in therapy, it helped me calm myself down doing something with my hands and stuff like that," Horner said. "I've been doing it ever since. I had a lot of problems."

Anthony Parker, 46, showed his black-and-white illustrations.

"Mine are the comic book-inspired, apocalyptic pieces," he said. "Some would say dark. I won't deny there is some darkness there, but not utter hopelessness."

He has been a HOPE member for two years and has stayed in shelters and on the street. For him, homelessness came from a series of circumstances.

"Job loss, illness, some depression," he said. "It came in different intervals."

HOPE, organized by people who are currently or formerly homeless, has fought to prevent sexual harassment at local shelters and police harassment in the community, said Frederick Stevenson, 42, the group's newly elected vice president.

They also have a worker-owned T-shirt co-op, Street Wise Ink, that recently got equipment to create new art on the shirts.

"Nobody is the boss," Leanna Hicks, 24, said of the co-op. "We are all responsible for each other."

HOPE is sponsored by the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center. For more information, call 901-725-4990 or visit


(c)2014 The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.)

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Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

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