Dignity Day art focuses on issues and solutions around homelessness

Dignity Day events feature artwork focuses on homelessness solutions and issues in the fourth year it's been held in the city.

Artists created paintings for the day with themes linked to homelessness

Chris Carlson, an artist and activist, created three paintings for Dignity Day events. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

The John Humphrey Centre For Peace and Human Rights on Wednesday showcased art created for Dignity Day, with a focus on homelessness.

It's the fourth year the centre has hosted annual Dignity Day events. Artworks created for the event were on display at iHuman Youth Society, along with speakers including the artists themselves.

Dignity Day, this year celebrated Oct. 16, is a global effort designed to recognize the dignity and humanity people share.

"When we talk about homelessness we always hear sad stories," said Maigan van der Giessen, arts lead with the Edmonton-based John Humphrey Centre.

"We want to engage artists to share the power and vitality of everyday people who might be struggling with different circumstances, but have so much to bring to the table, so many wise words and real solutions when it comes to housing security in our city.

"Art is a very big piece of that puzzle."

One of Chris Carlson's Dignity Day paintings features Sacheen Littlefeather, who represented Marlon Brando when the actor declined his Academy Award in 1973. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

Three of four paintings on display were created by Chris "Day One" Carlson, who also took part two years ago.

"I'm an activist. I speak out for human rights.," Carlson said. "I've helped with several charities across Western Canada. I really just believe in what they're saying on homelessness, treating people better. The work that they do, I'm a big fan of."

One painting by the Ponoka artist focused on people who give to the homeless but record themselves doing the good deed to post it on social media.

"I don't see that as right," he said. "I think you should just help somebody and then not look for praise for it. I don't think you need to make a video, take a picture or pat yourself on the back too hard. So I believe you should just help people."

Another painting shows two people in a tent in the cold, keeping warm through human contact.

Young people who use the iHuman Youth Society are blended over the Edmonton skyline in a piece by Matthew Cardinal. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

The paintings will be on display at a Dignity Day event at the Aviary, 9314 111th Ave., on Wednesday at 7p.m.

The event will also feature live paintings, musical performances and a panel discussing homelessness issues and solutions.




Travis McEwan

Video journalist

Travis McEwan is a video journalist who covers stories ranging from human interest and sports to municipal and provincial issues. Originally from Churchill, Man., Travis has spent the last decade working at CBC Edmonton reporting for web, radio and television. Email story ideas to travis.mcewan@cbc.ca.