Invisible Words is an exercise in empathy with a public art exhibition featuring a curated collection of signs made by people experiencing homelessness worldwide. The exhibit, events, and thought-provoking programs to inspire service and action will premier at Martin Luther King Memorial Library in Washington DC in March 2022.
Invisible Words features compelling statements that are seen but too often overlooked by Americans every day. The signs reveal a range of emotions: embarrassment, shame, desperation, anger; even humor and political insight. Their words are raw, emotional, and sometimes magnificently poetic. In stark contrast to the sidewalks and underpasses where these signs were purchased from their authors, the exhibition invites the viewer to linger. Pulling aside the scrim of our own discomfort, we can gaze directly at these powerful messages, freed from the awkward interactions and sideways glances with which we often confront them.
Social activist Wendy Abrams curated the exhibit. Abrams’ previous work includes the public art exhibit Cool Globes: oversized globes showing solutions to climate change. Since premiering in Chicago in 2007, Cool Globes has toured across four continents and has been translated into nine languages. Regarding Invisible Words, Abrams explains that “homelessness is a heart-wrenching and complicated problem. I don’t pretend to have the answers, and this exhibit is not intended to tell viewers what to do. Art has the power to make you think; this exhibit was put together to do that, to see things you didn’t see before, or see them through a different lens.”
Invisible Words is brought to Washington, DC, through the Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC) and the Eleven Eleven Foundation. IVC is a national lay Catholic organization that harnesses the expertise of individuals over fifty who have the passion and commitment to make a difference in issues impacting the world. IVC members serve among the materially poor in twenty regions across the US, reverently entering the lived experience of others while providing their skills to over three hundred social service organizations. By co-sponsoring Invisible Words, IVC seeks to offer a broader audience the opportunity to increase awareness and compassion for people facing homelessness and dire poverty. “Seeing with new eyes is what service corps members do. IVC presents the incomparable experience of Invisible Words as an exercise to open more hearts to empathy, and to inspire the service and advocacy that brings real and lasting hope,” IVC President and CEO Mary McGinnity explained.
The mission of the Eleven Eleven Foundation is to support thought leaders, change agents, and organizations that work diligently to improve our planet, our health, and future generations. The Foundation feels a deep passion and sense of urgency for advancing society’s approach to the Environment, Healthcare, and Education.
Invisible Words will be on display at the Martin Luther King Memorial Library from March 13 – June 30, 2022. The MLK Library is located at 901 G St NW, Washington DC 20001. The library’s hours are 10-6 M-W, F, Sat and 12-8 Thursday, and 1-5 on Sunday. For more information, contact: Steve Eberle, Vice President for Advancement, Marketing, and Communications – 410-752-4686 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Seeing with new eyes is what service corps members do. IVC presents the incomparable experience of Invisible Words as an exercise to open more hearts to empathy, and to inspire the service and advocacy that brings real and lasting hope,
Thank you to our Sponsors!
- Tom and Nancy Woodley
- Eleven Eleven Foundation
- V&S Foundation
- Finsbury Glover Hering
- John and Mary Podesta
- Jeanne Ruesch
- C. Maury Devine
- Matt and Rosemary Lawlor
- Ceca Foundation
- Patrick and Vicki Malone
- Tony Podesta
- Mark and Mary Ruge
- Michael Berman and Debbie Cowan
- Mary Beth Cahill and Steve Champlin
- Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington DC
- Carnot Evans III
- Georgetown University
- David Kanstoroom
- Dennis and Pam Lucey
- Gabe Podesta
- Jack and Anna Rasmussen
- Megan and Gordon Rouse
- James A. Tracy
- Michael Werz and Helga Flores
- Diane Ambler
- Catherine Chieco
- Crittenton Services of Greater Washington
- Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help
- Holy Trinity Catholic Church
- House of Ruth Shelters
- Loyola Blakefield
- Tamera Luzzatto
- Sitar Arts Center
- Melanne and Phil Verveer
- Washington Jesuit Academy
- Washington School for Girls
IVC Goals for Invisible Words
- Open eyes and hearts in empathy to those among us experiencing homelessness
- Show how art has the power to make you think
- Be a convener of the national policy, art, Catholic, interfaith, and social service communities in reflecting on and addressing homelessness
- Provide programming for students
- Underscore Pope Francis’ call in Let Us Dream to see the societal needs COVID-19 has revealed and respond in service to the poor and marginalized
- Showcase the new MLK Library to new audiences
Homelessness is a heart-wrenching and complicated problem. I don’t pretend to have the answers, and this exhibit is not intended to tell viewers what to do. Art has the power to make you think; this exhibit was put together to do that, to see things you didn’t see before, or see them through a different lens.