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Hidden Voices

Students in the Advanced Media Lab at NC State contributed their creative energy to an effort to raise public awareness of homelessness. A series of animated films created by the students was screened last month by the Chapel Hill Public Arts Office, which sponsored the project in concert with the nonprofit group, Hidden Voices.

The films are based on taped conversations with homeless persons conducted over several months in shelters and social service facilities throughout Orange County by Hidden Voices staff and volunteers. Students utilized a variety of animation methods, including stop-motion, hand-drawn, laser-cut and digital blue screen to illustrate the compelling words and stories of the people affected.

Personal Stories Provide Soundtrack

In one short animation, a homeless woman named Anna laments the unexpected crisis that led to her plight.

“I couldn’t work because of my back,” she says. “The medical bills kept piling up and then the money ran out. I never thought a hardworking girl with two college degrees would wind up in a homeless shelter, but I did.”

The interpretive animations explore a range of issues related to homelessness, including medical bankruptcy, mental health conditions, domestic violence, foster children aging out of support systems, parental rejection of gay and lesbian teens and poverty.

“I am excited about this as an art project as it helps to give visual form to an often difficult and misunderstood subject. Plus, it offered students an opportunity to tackle storytelling and communicating messages through contemporary media,” says Jeffrey York, Chapel Hill’s public art administrator.

The animation project was a part of a larger project coordinated by Hidden Voices that includes writings, photography and performances created by homeless members of the community, as well as a digital audio and print tour, exhibit and school curriculum guide for implementing a focus on homelessness.

The Advanced Media Lab is a program of NC State’s College of Design.

Watch the Animations

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