In response to the University of Washington Bothell’s Call for Artists/Call for Social Change I have developed the following design for the “Climbing Home” sculpture. The concept behind the design is the symbolism of a ladder allowing the homeless the ease of “climbing” out of their situation. The goal of this idea is to urge the social system to make resources for the homeless more accessible and the dream of getting housing a reality. The ladder will be adorned with words of inspiration that the community and the homeless will relate to.
The sculpture will be of a steel ladder leaned against a brick wall on the Cascadia side of the campus. The ladder will be leaned against a wall of the building in a landscaped alcove across from the parking garage along the sidewalk on Campus Way NE. The ladder will be made of steel, simple in design, approximately six and half feet tall, and without extension capabilities or other unnecessary add-ons. A significant word will be engraved on each rung to aid in conveying the purpose and concept behind the sculpture and the emotions that will hopefully be evoked in the individual viewing the work. These words will be engraved in the steel and then painted with silver paint accenting every letter as to catch the attention of passers by.
This sculpture will be ADA accessible as it is along a sidewalk that is ramp accessible and it will also be out of the way of pedestrians and doorways. The sculpture will be placed in a garden area that is preexisting and even though it is visible from multiple windows it will not block them in any way. The ladder will be leaned at approximately a sixty-five degree angle to the wall and attached to concrete poured in the dirt at the base and bolted to the wall at the top. There will be shrubs planted around the base of the ladder that will grow to around two feet tall to detour anyone from trying to climb the sculpture. A sign that reads something to the affect that the University is not responsible for any injuries as a result of climbing the ladder will be installed in plain view at the sculpture site. Along with this sign there will be a plaque displaying the title, the concept of the sculpture, and dedicating it to the homeless as a symbol of hope and social change. The goal of this sculpture is to reach and impact as many people as possible regarding the issue of homelessness in the Seattle area.
I distinctly remember being afraid of homeless people as a child, and as I grew older my view was still negative as I saw them as lazy, jobless, addicts who had no desire of bettering their lives or themselves. Over the past few months as I dove into the social issue of homelessness my eyes were opened to the reality of this epidemic. I learned quickly that many homeless people are forced into their situation by circumstances that are out of their control such as the sudden loss of a job, domestic violence, mental illness, or other issues. I wanted to create a piece that would not only raise awareness about homelessness but would also highlight the issue of the social system. It is nearly impossible for a homeless person or family to get out of their situation on their own. They find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place. A person needs a job to have a home and they need a home to get a job. There are programs that can remedy this problem but they are not efficient and often take many months if not years to actually better a person’s situation.
I was struck with the image of homelessness as a pit that people get stuck in with no way to get out. I decided to use a ladder as an image of a way to get out of homelessness and onto a better life. The words on the ladder represent the dreams of many homeless individuals: hope, help, heal, hire, and home. The ladder is a symbol of freedom but it also symbolizes the social injustice because on a ladder you can go up and down. People make progress in the process but often run into setbacks. This issue is close to my heart because, like me, many other people view the homeless as lazy, jobless, addicts who are not actively trying to make their lives better. My dream is that this sculpture and message will touch the lives of many, change their views of homeless people, and make the social system more efficient and able to help more people than ever before.