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Photographs by Homeless Families Show Hopes, Dreams

NASHVILLE, TENN.—(Dec. 23, 2008)—The Frist Center for the Visual Arts will open Seeing Ourselves: Photographs of Safe Haven Friday, Jan. 9, 2009. Featuring 22 color and black and white photographs taken by members of homeless families while living at the Safe Haven Family Shelter, the exhibition provides insight into the human side of homelessness. The exhibition, organized by the Frist Center, is on view through Aug. 9, 2009, in the Conte Community Arts Gallery, with no admission charge.

“The photographs selected for Seeing Ourselves represent life patterns and happenings that are experienced by people living in a variety of circumstances,” says Andee Rudloff, educator for outreach at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and curator of the exhibition. “Instead of simply documenting the conditions of homelessness, the images remind us that we all share common hopes, dreams, and goals.”

In April 2008, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts partnered with Safe Haven Family Shelter in Nashville, to provide an opportunity for cultural enrichment through a community art program offered to its residents. Safe Haven is the only shelter in middle Tennessee that provides both interim housing and job training, thereby empowering homeless families with children to live independently.

Nashville-based photographer Allen Clark and the Frist Center’s outreach educators led a two-week photography workshop for participants, who ranged in age from three to 65 years, to learn about composition, visual storytelling and photographic technique. Writing exercises, including poems written to accompany their images, and preliminary drawings helped residents form ideas for pictures that reflected their thoughts and feelings about their lives now and in the future. On the final day of the workshop, each resident was provided with a Holga 120N camera and invited to create and capture the compositions they had planned.

The Holga 120N is a toy-like camera that uses medium format film to create 2 ¼ x 2 ¼ inch negatives. Holga enthusiasts believe that flaws in the camera’s plastic lens and body mechanics give images an appealing look. Light leaks, vignetting, loss of sharpness, and other “imperfections” produce interesting colors, perspectives and unique effects to create works that transcend straightforward documentation.

The gallery guide features images and text, as well as a resource list that includes Web site addresses, for those in need of homeless services in the Nashville area.

The presenting sponsor for Seeing Ourselves: Photographs of Safe Haven is the William N. Rollins Fund for the Arts of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and is funded in part by the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission and the Tennessee Arts Commission.

The Frist Center acknowledges participants of the Homeless Advisory Council, which includes representatives from the following organizations: Oasis Center, Safe Haven Family Shelter, Vanderbilt University, Homeless Power Project, Humanities Tennessee, and Metropolitan Nashville Homeless Commission.

About the Frist Center

Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, located at 919 Broadway in downtown Nashville, Tenn., is an art exhibition center dedicated to presenting the finest visual art from local, regional, U.S. and international sources in a program of changing exhibitions. The Frist Center’s Martin ArtQuest Gallery features more than 30 interactive stations relating to Frist Center exhibitions. Gallery admission to the Frist Center is free for visitors 18 and younger and to Frist Center members. Frist Center admission is $8.50 for adults, $7.50 for seniors and military and $6.50 for college students with ID. College students are admitted free Thursday and Friday evenings, 5–9 p.m. Discounts are offered for groups of 10 or more with advance reservation by calling 615.744.3246. The Frist Center is open seven days a week: Mondays through Wednesdays, and Saturdays, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m.–9 p.m. and Sundays, 1–5:30 p.m., with the Frist Center Café opening at noon. Additional information is available by calling 615.244.3340 or by visiting our Web site at

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