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Artist stays a week in Tallahassee storefront raising homelessness awareness

Posted at 6:49 PM, Feb 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-08 18:49:30-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — If you look closely as you travel near the intersection of Gaines Street and Railroad Avenue, you may see the blankets and buggies that some people call home. But if you miss them, one community activist has come up with a way to make homelessness in Tallahassee a little more visible.

"I have seven bottles of water I have four rolls of toilet paper I have some hygiene wipes and some hand sanitizer and no food," says local artist Nik Rye.

Rye locked herself behind this window at The Plant on Gaines street, inside thin walls painted with diary entries of what it felt like when she was once homeless herself, and relying on people to donate food through this drawer every day in order to eat. She hopes as people feed her, they’ll realize the greater need, "because this is a performance," she says, "but in real life, we watch people who don’t have food or are in jail for things."

That reality hits home for Raymond Myers who often sleeps nearby.

"When you have a charge on your record, no one wants to touch you with a 10-foot pole, or give you a job, or give you a chance."

The Plant board member Donna Coterell says she believes the project will be eye-opening, "because it’s OK to stare," she says.

"We don’t like to stare. It’s impolite, and some people have never interacted with homeless people at all. So here you have the opportunity to interact, to ask questions, and also to almost get a feel of what it’s like without living on the street," says Coterell.

An experience Rye hopes will "highlight that those feelings that people have. If they can emphasize with me, then they should be able to empathize with other people that we have forgotten about."

Rye will live inside The Plant window through February 15.