The Story Of 'We Are All Homeless'—The Dallas Artist Who Buys Signs From Homeless People
Start writing a post

When Willie Baronet sees a homeless person holding a sign that says “Homeless traveling man – please help,” he doesn’t follow the instincts of most passersby, looking away uncomfortably and walking faster. Instead, he makes an offer and a conversation.

Baronet, an artist and professor residing in Dallas, buys handmade signs from homeless people as part of an ongoing project titled “We Are All Homeless.” If they agree to sell their sign to him, he asks them to set the price. Most of them don’t ask for much—their costs almost always fall between $10 to $20.

Baronet came up with the idea of “We Are All Homeless” in 1993 as a graduate student. As he often caught himself not making eye contact with homeless people, he sought a way to confront his discomfort. It's an uneasiness and what seems like embarrassment that is shared by many of those who have never experienced homelessness. “This was a way for me to start a conversation,” says Baronet. “It was a way for me to change the dynamic between us.”

In July 2014, he and three of his friends embarked on a 24-day journey throughout the United States, getting to know vagabonds throughout the nation while shooting a documentary outlining his experiences through the course of this project. From city to city, Baronet talked to homeless people, asking to buy their signs and have them speak on camera. More than half agreed. Some declined, citing vanity and privacy as reasons for their reticence.

“We Are All Homeless” continues to teach Baronet much about both the people who he talks to and himself. People open up to him, telling him about their experiences from a homeless perspective and revealing how they came to be in those situations. A few admitted that they were on the run–sometimes from domestic violence situations, Baronet guesses. Hearing so many stories, he’s found that, “There are a lot of sad stories.”

Baronet foresees himself continuing this project “for as long as I live, apparently.” Previous exhibitions created in relation to “We Are All Homeless” include settings where homeless signs covered the floor, forcing visitors to walk on them, or where interactive surfaces invited people to write what “home” meant to them.

On January 21, another installation will be exhibited at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The journey is far from over. Baronet plans to incorporate homeless signs into quilt patterns, jewelry designs, and picture books outlining different meanings of home.

To him, it’s still about seeking new ways to present these signs to people and to appeal to their discomfort long enough for them to step back, confront, and understand.

“It’s not about whether we have a house or not,” he says. “I believe we all have human issues. It’s easy to want to say 'there’s the homeless and there are the people with homes.' And the truth is, we’re all the same. We’re all together.”

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Rebecca Alvarez

Rebecca Alvarez is many things: founder, sexologist, CEO, mentor, and more — as a Latina businesswoman, each of her endeavors is grounded in the strong principles of inclusivity and diversity, especially in sexual health and wellness. Bloomi is the product of her all of her shared passions, and with it she has fostered a community of like-minded, passionate women.

Keep Reading... Show less

There is not a consistent standard for health education in the United States. There are a lot of variables that go into this — what state a student lives in, whether they go to a public or private school, and the district's funding and priorities. These variables can be argued for any subject, not just health class. But as we continue to grow as a society, hopefully bettering our education system along the way, it's crucial to consider this often-forgotten element of a child's schooling.

Keep Reading... Show less

In March, the whole country shut down. School was online, extra-curriculars were canceled, and I found myself laying in bed all day every day. One day, as I was laying in bed contemplating my laziness, I decided that I wanted to do something to make myself more healthy. I was feeling so down on myself and my laziness so I decided to make a change.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

10 Songs That Made It Onto My September Playlist

September is the month for Los Angeles natives and Australian music fans.

2807

The Neighbourhood, Bad Suns and The Driver Era are three Los Angeles bands that released songs this month. Not only was it a month for Los Angeles bands, but many Australian bands released new music — San Cisco's fourth studio album, Surf Trash single, Skegss single, and High Tropics single. I made new discoveries this month and was pleased by the amount of new music.

Read the listicle below to learn what came out this month in alternative rock music:

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Staying Active While You're Stuck Inside IS Possible, It Just Takes Some Small Steps

I know the last thing you want to think about right now is exercising, but it's time to put down the controller and put on your workout clothes.

252

As someone who has also been living on a bed since March, I can guarantee you that working out has been the last thing on my priority list. It's pretty far down there, along with my motivation and brain cells I used to use for work. However, I have made an effort in the past couple of weeks to move up exercising to at least number three on my priorities list.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Got Clean At A Very Young Age, And It Honestly Saved My Life

At 18, the world looked so much different for me than it did for most other 18-year-olds that I knew.

469
Emmie Pombo

Going into rehab when I was 19 was hands down the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life. My addiction started when I was around 17 and spiraled and spiraled out of control, as addictions always do. However, looking back, I'm so lucky my addiction started and ended when it did.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

7 Things Your Partner Can Do To Support You When You Have PCOS

Don't be afraid to ask for help or comfort if you need it.

13105

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) may not be totally visible to the eye, which makes it a lot harder for your partner to understand what's going on with your body.

If you are in a relationship, it's important that you communicate your PCOS symptoms with your partner. I say "your" symptoms specifically because everyone's symptoms are different.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Watched 'The Social Dilemma' And YIKES, I'm Terrified For The Next Generation's Mental Health

Millennials can remember a time without online social affirmation, but we may be the last ones.

7003
The Social Dilemma / Netflix

I've been in a media job for the entirety of my professional career. From part-time social media internships to full-time editorial work, I've continued to learn how to tell stories, write catchy headlines, and keep people interested. I believe working in media is a big responsibility, as well as a valuable way to advance our world.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

One Indictment, Three Charges, And No Justice For Breonna Taylor

We can't settle for this decision or a system that is fundamentally broken and unequal.

20773

On March 13, 26-year-old Breonna Taylor was fatally shot in her apartment by police who were executing a "no-knock" warrant. Since then, there have been rallying efforts both in the streets and on social media demanding justice for Taylor and keeping her name known.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments