The fine art photography of Kirti Bassendine was a focal point at the State Capitol’s California for the Arts Advocacy Day on April 23.
Bassendine lives in both San Benito and Santa Clara counties, and her subjects are from both communities. She accompanied, interviewed and photographed several homeless individuals, as well as families with young children.
Politicians and the public wandered along, taking their time and absorbing each portrait and write-up going into detail about each person’s life and lifestyle.
“My vision was to take this exhibition to our decision makers,” Bassendine said about having the show in downtown Sacramento. “By looking at this exhibit and reading these stories, my hope is that it will help them understand the variations of what brought these people into homelessness.”
“Any one of us at any moment, any tragedy and we could be on the streets. I felt so fortunate to have the opportunity to exhibit my photos in Sacramento where the policy changers are.”
Trained in England in fine art, Bassendine now spends most of her time in both Santa Clara and San Benito Counties.
“My hope is that the pictures will cause people to become more compassionate and understanding about the homelessness issue statewide-put names to the faces and bring humanity and dignity back,” she said about her project.
Bassendine said aside from those attending Arts Advocacy Day, Senator Ben Allen from Southern California spent time viewing her work and commented on the variety of personal experiences told in her exhibit. She said Assemblyman Robert Rivas also saw her work at an opening in Gilroy a few months ago.
“They both commented to me that it’s important for people to see these personal stories,” she said.
KCRA television news in Sacramento reported on the exhibit saying, “Kirti Bassendine, photographer- put a name to the face, bring humanity back, dignity. These are people that are human beings. They have had hard times. Anyone of us at any moment, any tragedy and we could be on the streets.”
Asked about the overall reaction to her exhibit held in the capitol, Bassendine said, “It was very encouraging to hear all the positive comments from Senator Ben Allen and also Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg who after reading the stories, asked me to continue what I am doing- making the homeless more real and creating awareness.”
Bassendine hopes to move from one area of California to the next while revealing the kinds of incidents that resulted in a struggle for dependable shelter.
“I would like to take the Homeless Voices exhibition to other cities across the state to introduce residents to their homeless community and help people understand their circumstances and challenges,” she said.
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