Cut out figures bring new perspective to homeless in the Lowcountry

VIDEO: Cut out figures bring new perspective to homeless in the Lowcountry
Aerial view of the lawn in front of the Gaillard Center (Source: Live 5)
Aerial view of the lawn in front of the Gaillard Center (Source: Live 5)
(Source: Live 5)
(Source: Live 5)
Structure with the organizations involved in the project (Source: Live 5)
Structure with the organizations involved in the project (Source: Live 5)
Cut out near the Northbridge Park in West Ashley (Source: Live 5)
Cut out near the Northbridge Park in West Ashley (Source: Live 5)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A Charleston based company is on a mission to raise and maintain awareness about homelessness, and the way they're doing it may have caught your eye.

Cut outs of men, women and children have been placed all around city.

It's part of an Installation project by Meadors.

"This installation is a great example of serious public art with a serious public purpose, and I commend Meadors and its partners for making it happen," said Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg. "It's a moving reminder of our shared duty to help others in need -- and a powerful call to action for our whole community on the issues of homelessness and affordable housing."

The group created these cut outs after many conversations with the mayor about how to tackle this growing problem.

"We thank him for his support and without him this really would not have happened," said Michael Nixon, Design Services Manager at Meadors.

It took nearly 90 days for the idea to become a reality.

Nixon said they sought support from the city and different organizations to get this installment in place throughout the month of July.

"We've gotten a lot of interesting comments when we were setting it up," Nixon said. "Many are overwhelmingly supportive of the concept. We hope that excitement translates into real action."

"That's really neat," said Kayla King, who works downtown. "It definitely caught my attention. Just hearing [about it] makes you think about the homeless more."

The hope is to get the community actively involved.

"They are cut outs so that you can see right through them," Nixon said. "In talking to various people that is one of the issues that happens, and why homelessness persists, and why organizations do struggle to get support and funding to help it because people look right through the homeless."

"Part of this installation was to connect our community, not just seeing the installation, but seeing these organizations," said Christine Bozigar, a designer at Meadors. "It's these organizations that are working locally within our community that are actually going to help solve the problem."

The group realizes that homelessness is not something that can be completely erased, but hopes this project will get people to think about the issue.

"Charleston is a city that has really well as a community to other issues, and we hope that people will step up and do their part in this issue as well," Nixon said.

"That is awesome," said Linda Morris, of New York. "They should do this around the world, because there shouldn't be any homelessness. Not one person should be homeless."

The group has talked about the need for "functional zero" when it comes to this issue.

"It's hard to prevent people from becoming homeless, but if you can house the same number of people [in a place] it becomes functional zero," Bozigar said.

Meadors used the skills of its six workshops to design and digitally fabricate the installation.

The 430 cut outs represent the approximate number of people who are homeless in the greater Charleston area, based on the last official count.

There are nearly 200 out on the front lawn of the Gaillard Center, with numerous placed on Johns Island, James Island, and West Ashley.

The group is working with roughly 20 organizations for this project. They include: Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach, One 80 Place, YWCA, Low Country Homeless Coalition, Florence Crittenton, SC, Family Services, Inc., Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Palmetto Community Action Partnership, We Are Family, Palmetto Project, Palmetto Warrior Connection, Charleston Trident Urban League, Chesapeake Health Education Program, Inc., City of Charleston Housing Authority, Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, Military Community Connection, Shield Ministries, Tricounty Family Ministries, Carolina Homeless Veterans, Charleston Community Impact.

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