"You find harmony within yourself," says one participant in the weekly sessions offered through Union Gospel Mission. Some of the work will be displayed during an upcoming First Thursday art walk in Pioneer Square.
Sometimes nobody shows up. Sometimes five do.
All are homeless, but on this day they’re also photo students hitting the streets in a program to bring “healing through creativity.”
It’s a weekly session with the Union Gospel Mission in Pioneer Square.
Colin Scott, Anthony Pierce and Jimi Hendrix (yes, his real name) each are given a small, digital camera and head north on First Avenue in what the mission calls “photography therapy.”
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On this outing they’re guided by Lee Jeffries, an art photographer visiting from Manchester, England.
He makes portraits of the homeless and was invited by the mission to help.
Torie Rynning, the public-relations manager with the mission, says “it’s designed to carve out a creative space for people going through a rough patch, get outside of your situation … to build relationships for people.”
Hendrix is constantly looking at details along the street. A small plant emerging from a crack in the pavement. Patterns within architecture.
He says the photo adventure “brings peace of mind. I can listen to the world sing.”
Jeffries, a full-time accountant, is known for his close-up portraits of street people.
He’s been featured prominently in Time magazine.
He moves in tight on Scott, then Hendrix. Really tight. Any closer and he’d be behind them.
It evokes laughter. But, it relaxes people.
It’s a serious approach, he explains, and opens possibilities to the group.
Jeffries says “it’s all about the light.” And when he meets people, he talks with them.
“It’s a bit of respect” and it’s “an antidote to my own sense of loneliness.”
Caleb Harris, the program’s coordinator, will select images and print them out to be displayed in the mission’s Spanish Chapel during the monthly First Thursday art walk in the neighborhood.
It’s a payoff for the students.
About photography, Jeffries says, “you keep pressing until your fingers bleed.”
For Hendrix, through photography “you find nature, you find peace, you find love. You find harmony within yourself.”