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Visual Arts

Homeless Artists Respond to Stereotypes

November-December 2010

<i>I See a Brighter Day</i>

I See a Brighter Day

<i>How You See Me</i>

How You See Me

<i>Pulling My Way Out!!!!</i>

Pulling My Way Out!!!!

Ruthann Traylor learned of research on stereotypes by Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist at Harvard Business School, years ago when they were neighbors. (Cuddy was then studying for her doctorate at Princeton.) “I read the section on how the poor and homeless were perceived to 12 poor and homeless women at the shelter,”  says Traylor, who is now the director of ArtSpace, a homeless shelter in West Trenton, New Jersey, run by HomeFront, a nonprofit social service agency. “We spent a year and a half responding to this perception by collecting poems and art work by the people I work with.” In April 2010, an exhibition of this work opened at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs, with a panel discussion two weeks afterward featuring Cuddy and fellow psychologists Susan Fiske and Peter Glick; 200 attended, and the exhibition ran into August.

In the gallery here, see some examples of paintings by these homeless artists, made in response to the research that showed the homeless were generally perceived as both cold and incompetent.

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Three people in 1950s New York

New York, by Robert Frank, negative 1955-56
Courtesy of the Addison Gallery of American Art

Robert Frank at the Addison Gallery, Andover, Massachusetts

A photograph of art historian Cassandra Albinson next to a photograph of a portrait of the Marquise de Pompadour applying pink rouge to her cheeks

Cassandra Albinson

Photograph by Stu Rosner; Painting: Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour (1750) by François Boucher/Courtesy of the Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Charles E. Dunlap

Harvard Portrait: Cassandra Albinson

Shelby Meyerhoff's photographic self-portrait of her head and shoulders transformed with body paints into a blue-ringed octopus

Shelby Meyerhoff uses body paint and photography to transform herself into creatures and scenes from the natural world. Photograph: a blue-ringed octopus

Photograph courtesy of Shelby Meyerhoff

Profile of body-paint artist Shelby Meyerhoff

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A photograph of art historian Cassandra Albinson next to a photograph of a portrait of the Marquise de Pompadour applying pink rouge to her cheeks

Cassandra Albinson

Photograph by Stu Rosner; Painting: Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour (1750) by François Boucher/Courtesy of the Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Charles E. Dunlap

Harvard Portrait: Cassandra Albinson

Shelby Meyerhoff's photographic self-portrait of her head and shoulders transformed with body paints into a blue-ringed octopus

Shelby Meyerhoff uses body paint and photography to transform herself into creatures and scenes from the natural world. Photograph: a blue-ringed octopus

Photograph courtesy of Shelby Meyerhoff

Profile of body-paint artist Shelby Meyerhoff

Three people in 1950s New York

New York, by Robert Frank, negative 1955-56
Courtesy of the Addison Gallery of American Art

Robert Frank at the Addison Gallery, Andover, Massachusetts