"The Homeless" Sculpture Unveiled at Case Western Reserve University’s Mandel School

Case Western Reserve University unveiled a sculpture titled "The Homeless" earlier this month in front of the university's Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.

The sculpture by American artist George Segal depicts two people living on the street, struggling to keep warm.

Katharine Bussert studies social work at the Mandel School. Taking a deep look at the statue brought her to tears.

"I think we can lose touch very easily of the humanity of those around us," Bussert said.

Dean Grover Gilmore is glad "The Homeless" sits in front of the Mandel School. He sees it as a reminder of the school's mission to make the world more just.

"Unfortunately, in our world we've been cultured to look the other way. I've had individuals tell me that they find it hard to look at this. That's good," Gilmore said. "They should be troubled because we need to think about what we can do to make the world a safer place for the people who are living on the streets."

Claudia Coulton is the founding director of the university's Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development. She saw the sculpture for the first time this week and called it a learning experience for the students.

"I think it's probably going to raise awareness and not necessarily answer their questions, but help them formulate new questions … about homeless people, about the systems that are serving the homeless, questions about why we as a wealthy society have been unable to prevent homelessness," Coulton said. "I don’t know that this provides the answers, but it provides the questions."

But pieces of art, even "The Homeless," get celebrated. They are admired. People living on the streets, generally are not.

Gilmore said that if a person experiencing homelessness were to sit where that statue does, he would offer help. He said he would point that person to services and resources that could help even further. Classes in the Mandel School have been discussing how they would respond to a homeless person in front of the building instead of a statue of a homeless person.

"Several students have told me that they’re now going to carry warm socks and old gloves with them that they could hand to someone who they see could use them on the street," Gilmore said.

The Mildred Andrew Fund gave "The Homeless" to CWRU. Segal died in 2000 at age 75.

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