Maxwell Rushton’s artwork “Left Out” has inspired social discussion on the topic of homelessness. Rushton used a jesmonite cast to create the figure of a sitting, slumped over person, and then covered it with a black garbage bag to replicate the image of a homeless person on the streets. He then placed the sculpture in various places around London to see how people react to its appearance.
The publics’ reactions to the sculpture varied drastically and are very telling of how people view homelessness not only in London, but around the world. Rushton’s website says,
Some of the people who did stop and try to help were interviewed; their comments ranged from how the sculpture is “so sad”, to how it made them think more about the homeless situation. Most importantly, one man said how “there’s a sort of message in there about people being disposable… it’s basically the idea that we see homeless people as garbage.”
The image Rushton creates is very shocking and powerful because it makes people open their eyes to the homeless situation, while previously many would normally just walk past the homeless without a second thought. Society has become so numb to homelessness that besides homeless shelters, and soup kitchens, people do not put a lot of effort towards helping end homelessness or even simply acknowledging a homeless person on the street.
Rushton says he got the idea to create this sculpture in 2015 when he was leaving a coffee shop and tripped over what he thought was a homeless person to whom he apologized to, only to realize that it was garbage. By changing the perspective of how society views homeless people, Rushton returns the empathy we should feel for those without anything and reinvigorates societies determination to put an end to homelessness.
At the end of Rushton’s short film, we are shown statistics that further encourage support to end homelessness;
“7,581 people slept rough at some point in London during 2014/15… an increase of 16 per cent on the previous year’s total of 6,508… more than double the number six years ago”
Obviously homelessness is not fixing itself, not matter the support people are told the homeless have. It is not one person’s or groups job to end homelessness, but every individual person’s. Therefore the art of Maxwell Rushton’s sculpture “Left Out” is not in the sculpture itself, but in the reactions from passers-by.
“Every single one of us has the power to make a difference. Take action today to improve an issue that matters to you.”
Watch the full video below: