Not all backpacks carry the same weight
The Backpack Project is my new community art project about Youth Homelessness. I have been volunteering with RYSE Hawai'i since 2018 and noticed the importance of backpacks for youth experiencing homelessness. It is how they move, carry their precious belongings, and make their status invisible to society. I saw the everyday use of backpacks in two youth groups as an opportunity to bridge High School students and RYSE Hawai'i youth.
The project culminated with an art installation of 60 backpacks as these two groups indirectly collaborated on the youth homelessness crisis in “Paradise.”
RYSE youth translated their reality and experiences, while keeping their anonymity to protect them from being stigmatized, giving them a choice to keep control of their image.
The High School students translated their point of view about being young and homeless in Hawai’i, as outsiders looking in.
The art process is documented and is part of the art installation. Both groups’ backpacks met at the Hawai'i State Art Museum, but they kept their identities private to each other, keeping with the concept of indirect collaboration.
The Backpack has become the perfect support for my community art practice. I invite participants to use the familiar object, the Backpack, and simple craft tools. I plan to offer residencies centered on Backpacks to invite youth to share their perspectives on local and social issues, bridging communities, like Nomadic Art Net, and culminating with adaptable art installations depending on the location and context.
I am open to sharing this collaboration nationally and internationally.
Year: Started in 2023
Material: Used Backpacks, appliqué, painting, embroidery and divers objects.