Earlier this week Drew Anderson, wearing a headlamp, spent part of a cold night beneath an Interstate 35 overpass at a spot where the highway's concrete support pillars are positioned in a way that makes a natural exhibition space.
He was bent over a projector and its homemade wooden holder, working on a test run of the four-month project, which he describes as a public "projection event."
Anderson has recorded the stories of nine Duluthians who have experienced or are experiencing homelessness. "So Much More: From Me to You" is an exhibition of the stories that will each, individually, play on the pillars after dark on Friday and Saturday night.
It's free and open to the public.
"It's a community connection piece of trying to break down common misunderstandings around whatever it may be: poverty, addiction, access to housing, access to basic needs," said Anderson, who solicited stories from friends he has made from his work with Loaves and Fishes.
The origin story
Anderson, who moved to Duluth about five years ago, has a background in this style of work. He is connected with Minneapolis Art on Wheels, which mixes projections and audio with public spaces, whether it's the side of a brick building or, in this case, the blank slate of a highway pillar.
He has an eye for where this sort of project will work, and has long had in mind the spot west of the Depot on the Lakewalk and Superior Hiking Trail, where the path runs between the beams.
Its proximity to the graffiti graveyard, an isolated and colorful urban landmark that once sheltered a tent city, is also key.
"By being close to graffiti graveyard, there is some thought that could be given to: 'What does it feel like to rely on an overpass to be my shelter for the night,'" he said.
The idea for the project developed during an off-year for the Local Solutions to End Poverty Forum, which he is a part of. The group decided on an ongoing story-sharing project.
Anderson received grants and collected the requisite permissions for the project, and began working on it in November. He has been able to use Public Access Community Television space at City Hall to conduct interviews.
Anderson collected the stories of nine people for the project. During the exhibition, the interviews will play out on individual pillars. A visitor will be able to move in close or stand back and hear the collection of voices.
"Sometimes it's a moment, sometimes it's more than that - a personal account of hardship and the feeling associated with being looked at a certain way."
At the end, there will be an interactive element: visitors can write down impressions, questions, concerns, which will also be projected onto pillars.
Tammy Ewing, whose story is featured, was eager to be involved with the project. She works at Bethel Treatment Center as an abuse disorder technician and met Anderson years ago when she lived at Olive Branch. She's in recovery, and her past legal issues have made getting to this point hard.
"I'm enthused about how he's bringing such an important message to people in such a cool and big way," she said. "For me, and many of the clients I work with, the biggest hurdle to get to the next level of recovery and prosperity - and being a contributing member in your own life - is finding housing and a job. Especially if you have a record."
Harry Victor, who has experienced homelessness off and on, said his interview is about where he was and where he is now.
"I just want people to know that it is possible to make it out of being down," he said.
If you go
What: "So Much More: From Me to You," an outdoor video projection event
When: 8-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Where: Beneath the I-35 overpass west of the Depot on the Superior Hiking Trail-Lakewalk. Coming from the other direction, it's across from the Bayfront Festival Park lot and Pier B.
More info: www.facebook.com/somuchmoreduluth