MIAMI (CBS4) – What started as a desire to fulfill a community service requirement at Coral Reef High School turned into an eye-opening exhibit on homelessness in Miami-Dade County.
Twin brothers Alexander and Christopher Kiener, 16, set off on the project with one goal in mind; creating something that would open the eyes, ears and minds of the people of South Florida, according to CBS4 News partner The Miami Herald.
What they came up with was a photography project capturing the images of some of the most downtrodden among us all: the homeless.
The brothers called their creation “Art is Homeless” and enlisted the help of their father, a self taught photographer, to mentor them throughout the process. They spent the majority of their time speaking to the homeless people who call Overtown home.
“Many were scared and didn’t want to be approached or talked to. There were some who were open to talk and share their stories. What moved my brother and me most was that many of the people shared that they were simply happy to see a kind face and not that of someone who would try to exploit them in their present state,” said Alexander.
Their father sees the project as a good teaching moment for his sons, and the community.
“I want to give back and want my sons grounded in what should be human nature to help others. The habit of turning the other way, while you are sitting in your car and the guy at the red light approaches you, is simply too easy,” said their father Joe Kiener. “If you turn your sight away from this issue, then you turn away from your brother, sister, mother, father anyone else for the matter. Art is Homeless is a brilliant way to capture the humanity of everyone.”
“Just to speak with them, you get an inside eye on their lives, personalities and reactions to their present state,” Christopher said. “They don’t appear to be homeless people, but rather happy in simply sharing their stories.”
The Art Is Homeless exhibit is on display through Tuesday, September 10 at Graham University Center, Florida International University, 10955 SW 15th St., Southwest Miami-Dade.
Homeless outreach center Camillus House plans to host an exhibit in October.
More information is available at artishomeless.com.