The character and nobility in the daily struggles of homeless San Diegans
By Taylor Scalise, Filmmaker and Neil Shigley, Artist
Neil Shigley has been involved in printmaking for many years, first beginning while in art school at San Diego State University and Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.
He is also a painter, sculptor, illustrator and currently teaches art at San Diego State University. But printmaking is a medium that continues to capture his imagination and passion. His subjects are homeless people living on the streets near his studio in San Diego.
Their daily struggle to survive has given them the character and nobility that could not be earned in another way. As an artist with an interest in form and drawing he has found the perfect subjects. As a human being he can’t help but feel compassion for these individuals and by presenting them in as large format perhaps it will bring them into focus.
These images begin as a drawing that is developed from a photograph he takes of the subject. Neil talks to them about their lives and what has brought them to this place at this time. The drawing is then placed on a piece of Plexiglas, which is then carved using a flexible shaft dremmel tool. It is then rolled with ink and a large piece of paper is laid over it. He presses by hand to transfer the image onto the paper. Once the print is pulled off the plate and left to dry it is then adhered to a canvas, which is stretched over wood.
At the top of each piece the name and age of the subject is written in pencil followed by the location where the first contact was made and the date.
At the bottom of each piece there is a painted symbol. First used by drifters in the depression, these symbols were part of a graphic language that was left by one individual at a location to communicate something to another individual who may pass by that place later. Sometimes it was a matter of life and death.
Neil Shigley’s large format portrait series Invisible People is on display at the Oceanside Museum of Art through February 15, 2015
Taylor Scalise is a visual artist born and raised in San Diego. Last year he started filming a project about local San Diego artist Neil Shigley, professor at San Diego State and Point Loma Nazerene. This film goes through the process of the artwork and what it means to Shigley to keep creating them and spreading awareness for the homeless community. This film is entirely for non-profit use, a way to share the art and the hope to spread awareness.