Courtesy of Case Western Reserve University | Rob Muller.
The late and world renowned artist, George Segal (famously known for the "Abraham and Isaac
" sculptures in memory of the Kent State shootings), will have a permanent place at Case Western Reserve University, thanks to a sculpture donated to the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.
Segal's piece is a life-sized sculpture called "The Homeless," depicting two people living on the street. One individual is seen seeking warmth under a blanket while the other is sitting pensively against a wall with a bag full of belongings, resembling that of a bag of trash to the untrained eye.
The homelessness situation in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County is dire
. In 2017, there were 2,744 homeless students
in Cleveland. According to The Center for Community Solutions
, 36.2 percent of the population of Cleveland lives in poverty and 18.2 percent are in abject poverty (meaning, household income less than 50 percent of the poverty rate).
Additionally, a little more than half of those in poverty are children and a percentage of the more than 11,000 evictions in the Cleveland Housing Court fall into homelessness every year.
The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless states that while Cuyahoga County has lost 444 shelter beds over the last decade, our community has seen an increase in permanent supportive housing to 781 units. There has luckily been a steady decrease in the number of veterans and the number of long term homeless living in Cleveland, yet every shelter in the city is full to capacity every night and running at overflow.
The Public Housing waiting list has surpassed 21,000 people with only 9,000 units in their inventory.
“From today forward, when students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members enter the Mandel School, they will be greeted with an unmistakable reminder of the school’s commitment to social justice,” said Mandel School Dean Grover Gilmore in a press release. “This sculpture represents a scene that is far too common in our urban landscape.”
Segal's sculptures were meant to capture slice of life moments of the mundane, but his commissioned works are frequently in response to issues of social justice, like 'Gay Liberation Monument' to honor the Stonewall Riots and the 'Holocaust Memorial at California Palace of the Legion of Honor.'
'The Homeless' was part of a gift from the Mildred Andrews Fund, a private operating foundation supporting higher education and art with an emphasis on sculpture, Segal's bronze sculpture was erected and unveiled at the entrance of the Mandel School yesterday. The statues were originally commissioned by Peter Putnam.