Springfield photographer shares portraits, stories of homeless residents
While it is difficult to capture the true number of people living on the streets of Springfield, statistics show 26 percent of our community lives at or below the poverty level. Now a new exhibit from photographer Randy Bacon puts the focus on their individual stories.
"I feel like hate is something that is learned. I've always felt that way, said Maranda Styczynski, 24, who is featured in the exhibit.
Styczynski is the mother of two and, at a young age, already a widow. She lost her husband to suicide nearly a year ago. Styczynski found
herself pregnant and homeless. She desperately wanted something better for her children.
"I didn't know you could feel so broken, and like I said, when I look at them, they need me as much as I need them," she said.
Styczynski is one of 45 people photographer Randy Bacon captured for his latest exhibit. Each person accepted the challenge to share his or her story with total strangers. They hoped for a chance to teach, gain acceptance, and begin the process of change.
"'This is cool, I hope hes got a good angle, how's my hair?' But then when I thought about it, 'Well, Shaun, you've been asking for a way to be a part of something bigger that can be a voice to change it. Here's your shot,'" said Shaun Supernaw, also featured in the exhibit.
Supernaw is a hard worker, but his distant criminal past and credit make it hard to find a place to live.
"I am employed. I work between 30 and 40 hours a week, and I sleep in an alleyway, but I go to work everyday," Supernaw said.
The stories on display at Bacon's studio may include some of what you would expect: whether it be a struggle with addiction, a lost job, or a record. However they also include much more: a never-ending search for hope and the fight for a chance to be recognized.
"I looked at my kids, and remember that moment and I'm like, 'Why am I thinking this? These are my children, and I have to be better for them," Styczynski said.
Being a mother gave Styczynski those things, even as she had nowhere to go with a toddler and a newborn.
"At hat point it just kinda hit me. I needed to try, try, try. The first night I had slept in my car, the next day I had a job interview, and I got the job," she said.
Bacon said his exhibit offers a message of hope.
"We're seeing already where people are going out and doing things to try to help the situation. Number one they're not as judgmental," Bacon said.
The exhibit will officially debut Friday. It is open to the public for free from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. Friday night at Bacon's studio at 600 W. College Street in downtown Springfield.