Art draws attention to the crisis of homelessness

Professor Alison Stigora’s new work sheds light on worsening problem

Mason Williams, Staff Reporter

A circle of driftwood supported by metal frames stands in the Seattle Pacific University Art Center lobby. At eleven feet tall, walking into the structure through the opening feels like walking into a giant picnic basket.

Blake Dahlin
Two guests observe the shelter/unshelter sculpture on display as part of Alison Stigora’s certain/uncertain show at the SPU Art Center.

This is the sculpture entitled “Shelter/Unshelter,” created by Assistant Professor of Sculpture Alison Stigora, had its opening reception Thursday, Oct. 10. The sculpture has been up since the beginning of the school year. 

“Sculpture invades your physical space, you can’t ignore it,” Stigora said.

She believes that sculptures are unique as an art form because they demand attention rather than asking for it, and “Shelter/ Unshelter” is no exception.

“It has a large presence, it has some sort of spirit about it and it’s a welcoming structure but it also has like… an intensity that’s really interesting,” said senior studio art major, Dominic Renz.

Stigora believes that the size and scale of the piece allow it to offer an experience that no other medium of art can.

 “Because of the scale, you can physically enter it and you can move around it. It’s not like, ‘I’m here and the art is over there,’” Stigora said.

Stigora hopes to use this exhibit, and the manner in which it captures the interests of onlookers, to spotlight the issue of homelessness in our community.

In coming to SPU to work with young developing artists, Stigora was struck by how much more prevalent homelessness is in Seattle as compared to Philadelphia, where she grew up. 

Stigora set out to explore humanity’s intrinsic drive to cover themselves, and the natural as well as systemic forces that prevent that need from being realized. 

“Physical structures invite viewers to contemplate the relationship between their body and their environment, whether that be an outdoor landscape, architectural space or social position,” Stigora said in her artist statement.