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Multimedia installation in Pack Square amplifies local housing issues and the stories behind them

"Homesick" takes over the site of the former Vance Monument Saturday nights through Nov. 30.
Matt Peiken | BPR News
"Homesick" takes over the site of the former Vance Monument Saturday nights through Nov. 30.

Housing affordability and accessibility are one of Asheville’s greatest challenges. A trio of artists are trying to draw attention to it through “Homesick,” a temporary public art installation happening Saturday nights at the entrance to Pack Square.

On and around the former Vance monument’s pedestal are sculpture, video projection, and fragments of audio interviews with people who are or have been without housing.

“We want to champion those that don’t have a means to voice their concerns, so bringing it downtown really forces people to see the issues at hand,” said Ethan Schultz, who collaborated on the installation with fellow artists Leslie Rosenberg and Liz Williams.

The artists interviewed people at Haywood Street Church and 12 Baskets, a community cafe that’s part of the Asheville Poverty Initiative. They also recorded conversations with people they personally know who’ve been without housing or are facing housing insecurity. The installation includes chalkboards where passersby can lend their own thoughts about homelessness.

“We wanted to highlight the vulnerable, the folks living on the street, but we also wanted to tell the story of folks who can’t afford to pay rent here or also can’t afford to buy a home here,” Rosenberg said. “And it’s amid the backdrop of extreme kind of capitalism, and meanwhile there some real folks in Asheville trying to make it.”

“Homesick” is among commissions of artwork by the city to reimagine Pack Square Plaza in the wake of the dismantling of the Vance Monument. It can be seen and heard Saturday nights through Nov. 30.

Matt Peiken was BPR’s first full-time arts journalist.