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Giving voice to the homeless at Seattle Art Museum

A new sculpture plays sounds of survival and perseverance.

SEATTLE — The latest work by famed Seattle sculptor and musician, Trimpin, draws from those who have experienced homelessness.

"Some of them lived, literally, on the streets," Trimpin says. "Most of them were living in shelters."

The kinetic sculpture of found objects, now on display in the lobby of the Seattle Art Museum, is called Hear and Now. It was created in collaboration with a group known as Path with Art.

Executive Director Holly Jacobson says, "All of our students are low income, and they've all experienced some form of trauma."

The core of the piece is a handmade wagon.

"My father made this when I was 9 years old," says Trimpin.

Each push of a button triggers an audio presentation of poetry created by the student artists.

"In between, it's rotating through the musical sequences which were also composed by the students," Trimpin explains.

Paper snippets of the student artists' writing adorn the project.

Jacobson says, "It's a really cathartic project for a lot of the people who participated who have experienced homelessness."

Pam Winter suffered a traumatic childhood, then moved more than 20 times over a 5-year period as a young adult and was frequently homeless. She has explored the effects of that upheaval in her poetry.

"This is my experience," Winter says. "This is where I've been. It hasn't been pretty."

But she hopes her poetry can help lift others.

"Art has, really, the power to do that," Jacobson says.

Lives of the homeless, often overlooked, can no longer be ignored thanks to the message shared through a powerful work of art.

"I feel empowered," Winter says."I've been to the bottom, and I'm coming to the top."

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