Culture » Visual Arts

Photographer Bill Young focuses his camera on homelessness and dialogue


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Photographer/publisher Bill Young has been doing art professionally for 18 years, but he’s been concerned about the plight of the homeless for much longer. For him, it’s personal.

“A friend of mine in high school ended up being homeless,” he says. “His dad lost his job, and he was not able to get a new job in time to pay the rent.” Young’s friend spent four or five nights on the street before being handed between relatives, some of whom he says abused him, which only added to the bouncing around.

“At that time, people were pretty good about tracking renters and what’s going on with them,” Young adds, “so if you miss a payment, it’s harder to get someone else to rent to you.” He says those landlords who would even consider renters who’d missed a payment would typically inflate down payments and security deposits, raising the barrier to get off the streets even higher.
Ultimately, his friend’s family was able to stabilize and get into a new home. But the memory stuck with Young. It’s the first link in a chain of intention that has led to his participation in Shelter, a mixed-media exhibition at Academy Art and Frame Company that he’s collaborated on with artists Cas Foste and Craig Cantrell. He’s contributed poignant photography, some previously shown, some new.

“The idea is to get people talking about the issues of homelessness and hopefully start to come up with some positive ideas to deal with it,” he says. To further support the homeless in town, 20 percent of proceeds will go to Urban Peak. But he says that while shelters and soup kitchens are critical early interventions, he hopes to see the Springs adopt farther-reaching efforts to address the underlying causes of homelessness.

“It’s a Band-Aid on a gaping wound.”


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