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June 19, 2007

The Identity Project [32]


Spectrum10_2 The Identity Project is a show of photographs and oral history interviews on display throughout June at the Metro Gallery in Burlington's City Hall.  The artwork was created by homeless and at-risk youth and gives the community a rare glimpse into their world.

Spectrum Health and Family Services and the Community Health Center of Burlington joined forces to bring you this exhibit.  Both organizations provide a sense of family, security and support to youth who often have no where else to turn.

Sammie, one of the artists, has been on the street since he was 15 yrs old and is not sure what may have become of him without the food, shelter, clothes, and friendship that Spectrum has to offer.

Spectrum12Another artist named Lizzy lives at home but goes to Spectrum One Stop regularly to see her friends and people she can relate to.

Sometimes it is hard for people to believe homelessness exists in Vermont and harder still to accept that young people live on the streets.  They are often hungry, cold and desperate for a routine and something to channel their energies towards.  Spectrum provides them with all these things.

More than anything, Sammie and Lizzy just want to be seen and accepted for who they are, instead of being treated like invisible outcasts.  They are tired of being ignored, brushed aside, stereotyped and misunderstood.  Bringing their voices and their artwork to City Hall is a step toward being heard and exposing their identities to the public.

Spectrum11_2 Lizzy carries a doll named "Jaded Jenny" around with her everywhere she goes.  She says that Jenny gets a lot of stares and this is a good thing because, "It gets [Lizzy] noticed.  Makes [her] stand out..."

The Identity Project is in its third year bringing these artists' voices, talents and personalities into the public spotlight.  Brian Plisko from Spectrum and Colleen Dwyer from CHCB are the main organizers of the co-sponsored event. 

The Identity Project is up at Metro Hall through June 29.  There is an opening reception this Thursday, June 21st from 4-7pm.  You can meet the artists and the staff and find out more about what you can do to help. 

Spectrum_7 The photos can be purchased for $20/each, half of which goes into the artist's pocket (Lizzy is hoping to buy her mom a birthday present) and half of which goes to the programs which benefit these artists.

So the next time you walk by Spectrum One Stop on Pearl St, try making some eye contact or stopping to say hello. 

According to Lizzy, they are loud and boisterous at times simply to get people to SEE them.  And if you see Lizzy and Jenny or Sammie, why not talk to them about their art show in City Hall.

Music is The Breaking In off their album Darkness Has Taken Hold Again.  The song is "Dark Winter."  You can catch The Breaking In playing at Club Metronome on June 29th with The Jazz Guys.  Also, they are releasing a new album!

And dearly departed Casey Rae Hunter's, AKA The Contrarian's, song "Soft Rock One" off his Soft Rock album.  Miss you and Brooke!


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Mike Marion


Very powerful and moving.

I checked out their website to see if any of the photos could be purchased on-line... but I didn't see any such section.

Do you know of anyway out-of-towners like I can purchase their photographs???



I was wondering when the show is going through. I tried clicking on spectrum's site and didn't get nothing and I didn't see any info. on the community health center's site. I live in nearby Maine and might think of coming up if it's still going on Saturday...I think what they are doing for these kids is great...thanks for covering the story...


Hello all! It's Sammie! Yep that's right! The one from above.... In the video at least. I see that some of y'all would like to purchase prints but are not in the Burlington area. Well I am here to tell you how! Brian can be reached through his email at Spectrum and I am sure he'd be more than delighted to help!
His email is

[email protected]

Thank you all so much! Without amazing people like your selves we would not be able to make this possible! I hope to see you all Thursday June 21st for our official opening reception from 4pm to 7pm...... The show will be up until the end of the month as well.
See you there!


Sammie - Thanks so much for this info! And thanks for being such an articulate and interesting person to interview!

Geno - the show is up through June 29th! Please come up and have a look!

Mike - You are very thoughtful! See above for info on how to purchase pics!


This is so great! I don't even know what to say. Giving voice to the disenfranchised - so very, very important and enriching. Community means EVERYBODY!

Does anyone know the gallery hours? I was unfortunately working during the opening reception but I want to make sure to see the show before it's gone.

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