Instigator: Actions | Alliances | Exhibitions

Actions: Homeless Rights

Homeless Rights

For twenty years I've been working with homeless rights groups. I've made prints for the street publications, Street Sheet and Street Spirit. I've made posters for Western Regional Advocacy Project. I also organized poster campaigns, exhibitons and helped with the Coalition on Homelessness auction for many years.

Street Roots, Portland, OR, Interviewed Art Hazelwood about his art and work on homeless issues.

Pressing the issue: Art Hazelwood's imagery and action on the homeless front
by Emily Green | 2 Dec 2014

Beast of Hatred - Those Whose Teeth are Swords, 2007, screenprint, 17 1/2” x 24”
Two books on art and homelessness
Touring exhibitionhomelessness then and now

Hobos to Street People:
Artists' Responses to Homelessness from the New Deal to the Present

You can view the entire traveling show and see details at the website of WRAP

Dorothea Lange, 1939

David Bacon, 2005

Arnett Watson Apartment Mural

Jos Sances and Art Hazelwood created this 10 foot by 19 ceramic tile mural at the Arnett Watson apartments in San Francisco. Arnett was an activist with the Coalition on Homelessness. See more

Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP)

WRAP is a coalition of west coast social justice-based homelessness organizations.
WRAP is working with artists to create imagery that communicates their message. To the right WRAP's first project, Without Housing

Art Hazelwood

Claude Moller

Contemporary Impressions

The journal of the American Printmakers Alliance commissioned an insert print for their subscribers. I created this screenprint in an edition of 800. Here it is animated, playing on a loop.

How America Honors the nameless valiant troops beset in Iraq and Afghanistan


Artists and Activists in new report draw attention to federal policy and its link to contemporary mass homelessness.

A report released in November 2006 uses artwork created by four San Francisco Bay Area political artists to draw attention to the ongoing effects of drastic cutbacks to federal affordable housing programs. The report, Without Housing: Decades of Federal Housing Cutbacks, Massive Homelessness and Policy Failures, documents the root cause of homelessness – the gutting of the federal housing budget – through art and words. The report is being distributed throughout the U.S. with the goal of changing the debate on homelessness from its current focus (the personal defects of “chronically homeless” people) to a focus on federal housing policy. Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP) – a San Francisco based organization that brings together grass roots organizations around the western United States – prepared the report in partnership with several national social-justice based organizations.

WRAP founder Paul Boden and artist Art Hazelwood together formed the idea of working with artists to bring life to the graphs and charts. The challenge for the artists was to translate the message of the graphic information into a piece of art that communicated both the facts and the emotional impact of the data. The numbers are shocking but it takes some study to get through them. Paul Boden has been taking his pie charts around the country and speaking to people for years. He wanted something that could carry the message more strongly. As he said, “no one is going to put a pie chart on their wall.”
The artists and WRAP members worked in collaboration to develop the images presented in Without Housing. While this may seem to be a natural fit, putting together artists and activists can be a difficult task. Even artists who regularly create political work can have difficulty communicating what the activists have been struggling (often for years) to get across. And activists can be cautious about artists who drop in from nowhere to suddenly portray the soul of the movement. It takes a lot of listening on both sides.

In the past activists generally came to print artists to help with their published materials because artists had the means to make reproducible materials, but now technology allows activists to create their own images leaving political artists more isolated; often producing their own messages but not tied into any particular group. This gives the artist freedom, but no direction, while the activists have control over message, but with no artistic input. It was part of the intention of this collaboration to try to reinvigorate this historically powerful connection between artists and activists.

The artists involved were — Art Hazelwood, who organized the collaboration and is a printmaker; Jos Sances, an indefatigable printmaker, sculptor, muralist, whose range of achievements include having co-founded Mission Graphica and Alliance Graphics; Claude Moller, San Francisco street art activist; and Ed Gould, long time art contributor to the Street Sheet, San Francisco’s street paper.

Each print incorporated the elements of the graph into its imagery. This was a challenge to be solved differently by each of the artists. Jos Sances used a purely digital collage of elements to tell the story of the divergence of federal funding away from affordable housing and towards mortgage subsidies over a 25-year period. An eye appears in the historical moment that is labeled “Housing For All”, when federal housing policy didn’t favor the wealthiest Americans’ write-offs for multiple homes, a period now long past.

Claude Moller used a photo-based screen print, superimposing text over a photo of an EKG machine to point out the critical condition of affordable housing. The funding of HUD (Housing and Urban Development) trends steeply downward while a flat line in red represents homeless programs.

Ed Gould created a reduction linoleum cut print then added text and printed the final form as a digital print. His image uses stacks of ever diminishing houses in a rural landscape to portray the loss of nearly all federal funding for rural affordable housing programs.

Art Hazelwood also used a linoleum cut as the original media but added text using screen print to create the final image. His image shows the loss of funding dating from 1983 when Ronald Reagan launched a massive assault on affordable housing programs. As a result 1983 saw the opening of homeless shelters nationwide, represented in the artwork by increasingly larger figures in silhouette against an ever more desolate background.

A new era of modern homelessness unseen since the Great Depression began in 1983. It has not subsided and every attempt since then by local, state and federal government to address the issue has dealt with the individual person as the cause of the problem and failed to address the systemic problem. Yes, drug, alcohol and mental and physical illness are causes of homelessness but with the US Department of Education identifying 600,000 homeless students just in our public schools, and an Urban Institute study suggesting that as many as 3.5 million people, including 1.35 million children, are likely to experience homelessness in a given year, there is more to the story than individual hardship… there is a systemic problem.
These artists and activists have worked separately over the years to bring attention to these issues. But they hope in this new collaboration to bring this message to society through the force of well-documented facts together with descriptive and emotional artwork. Over the Winter 2006/07, these images will be featured in several U.S. street newspapers with a combined circulation of 200,000; they are also being publicized through over 200 events, congressional visits, and conferences. The 33-page report includes the artwork in book size format with a facing page of the graph data and accompanying bullet points describing the data. An offset poster size version of all the artwork has also been printed. The posters will be distributed to homeless shelters, drug rehab clinics and medical clinics, where they can be viewed by those who are most impacted: homeless people and front-line services workers. The original prints are being exhibited in non-profit centers and galleries to raise awareness as well as to raise money for further artist collaborations.

Political art is not only the creation of art about political events but also the attempt to engage the wider society by other means. Stencil art, street posters, images for protests, images for political movements, are all part of these other means. This project of teaming artists and activists together is a powerful tool for social change because it formulates a clear message sent out to a wide spectrum of society.

DeWitt Cheng