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Artist's Ghosts Portray Invisible Homeless

In many ways, the region’s homeless crisis is very visible, from tents on sidewalks to panhandlers in the street. But, artist Xavier Lopez remembers feeling invisible when, as a 10 year old,  his family was homeless. Hisexhibit, "Hope/Home" runs through June 16 in Seattle's Municipal Tower in downtown Seattle.Xavier Lopez' art installation is in the Seattle Presents Gallery, one of several in the Municipal Tower  operated by Seattle's Office of Arts and Culture. This year, the arts office is tackling the theme of homelessness.

For his exhibit, Lopez uses bed sheets to depict his family as ghosts. His father is the tall, plain sheet, his mother a sheet with a floral pattern. Most strikingly, his little sister, who is portrayed as a bright blue patterned ghost wears a Mickey Mouse hat from Disneyland on her head.

When Lopez was a child and his parents struggled financially, he and his family ended up living in their car and a shed for several months. What strikes Lopez about that time is they way people looked at them.

"I remember being a little kid and standing there and it became clear that people could tell that we were homeless, we were asking for food or money, and most people refused to look at us and I felt like we were ghosts, " Lopez said.

Behind Lopez ghost family is a wall covered with framed paintings and drawings from his own home. It gives the room a cozy feeling. Lopez says he wants people to see that even families without a home have dreams.

"When we were homeless, it was something that we did not think of as the rest of our lives," Lopez said.

Always, he says, there was hope.

Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.