Alms for the Rich

Alms for the Rich

  • Posted May 02, 2001
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Oil on Canvas, 24″ x 36″

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This was part of my “Homelessness” series, which I began while studying at School of Visual Arts. Read about the inspiration for the entire series, the other works in the series, as well as money earned for charity, here».

In this piece, a homeless man is giving something unseen, ostensibly of value, to a young stockbroker. They are situated in a post-modern dystopia, after the collapse of Western civilization and a catastrophic market crash, indicated by the laughing skull over the line graph on the laptop. Through this role-reversal, we can witness the erstwhile entrepreneur’s embarrassment that his “less successful” counterpart is more generous than he himself might have been in more prosperous times.

The model for the man on the right was a homeless gentleman I met in Columbus Circle, let’s call him Joe, who caught my attention because he wasn’t asking anyone for anything even though he was obviously very cold and in need of assistance. Joe had a bit of bad luck after losing his job in the 80’s, and never seemed to get back on his feet. He knew there were shelters but preferred to be on his own, and when I later learned about the conditions in some shelters, I do not blame him. He was very polite and grateful for the McDonald’s meal that we shared (a step above ramen for the college student I was), and I was indignant at the stares we received while standing in line, eating and chatting.

There is also an unsettling story about the two models I used for the man on the left; however it will keep for the time being.

Donate to the Coalition for the Homeless: DONATE»

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