Life-size silhouettes on the grounds of the Gaillard Center and scattered around Charleston County will serve as a reminder that even though the encampment known as “Tent City” is gone, homelessness still exists.
The idea for the installation, which includes 430 cutouts representing men, women and children who are homeless, came from Meadors, a local architectural and design firm.
Christine Bozigar, a designer with Meadors, said company employees working on an affordable housing project for the city were moved by Tent City and those who lived there.
The Upper Meeting Street encampment, once the site of more than 100 tents, raised public awareness of the area’s homeless problem, she said. But after it was closed, people seemed to forget about it.
Many people at Meadors wanted to help, she said, so, after meeting with Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg and local organizations that serve the homeless, they designed and made the cutouts in their studio.
Each figure contains a QR code, so people can snap a photo of the code with their phones then use it to access the installation’s website.
The site contains links to websites of local organizations that help the homeless, and each of those sites includes instructions for making donations.
“We wanted to connect homelessness to the people of Charleston,” Bozigar said.
The installation, with more than 200 figures on the grounds of the Gaillard and more than 200 scattered throughout the county, will run throughout July and will continue to draw attention to the area’s homeless, she said.
Tecklenburg called the installation “a great example of serious public art with a serious public purpose,” and he commended Meadors and its partners for making it happen.
“It’s a moving reminder of our shared duty to help others in need, and a powerful call to action for our whole community on the issues of homelessness and affordable housing,” he said.
Anthony Haro, executive director of the Lowcountry Homeless Coalition, said he thinks Meadors had a great idea to keep the spotlight on the area’s homeless and the need to create more affordable housing. And the installation also might help cash-strapped agencies.
“If it helps donation traffic, I’m all for it,” Haro said.
Reach Diane Knich at 843-937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.