Student’s Art Exhibit Recognizes Dignity of Homeless in Downtown L.A.

Jason Leith’s temporary gallery will be featured during L.A. Art Walk

May. 7, 2013 By Jessica Airey

Biola art student Jason Leith will debut a poignant, innovative exhibit in Los Angeles in conjunction with the L.A. Art Walk on May 9, featuring 12 portraits of members of the downtown homeless community. The project, called Sacred Streets, focuses on social engagement by ascribing dignity, value and beauty to the lives of individuals from the Skid Row district, Leith said.

Leith created the portraits while he interacted with the homeless community, drawing and designing using discarded objects found in the city. He also used reclaimed debris to construct the temporary gallery, located on San Julian Street. The site sits a few blocks from the L.A. Art Walk main fairway in a lot next to the Union Rescue Mission.

Leith’s vision for the exhibit was both to benefit and candidly involve his subjects in each portrait’s creation.

“My process begins on the street level, walking past tents, trash heaps and soup lines on Skid Row, drawing materials in hand,” Leith said. “I want to know the people from this community on a personal level, and the best way I know of connecting with them is to make portraits. To draw a person, in person, is for me a means of being present and attentive to the dignity in them.”

The canvases include old cardboard, rusted pieces of metal, scrap wood and used frames. The use of these elements themselves serves a symbolic purpose, Leith said.

“I draw these portraits on reclaimed objects that have stories somewhat parallel to the people depicted — stories of being found again and renewed,” he said. “And in the end, I'm interested in the possibility of reimagining these people and this world in terms of a deep and pervasive sacredness.”

The public is invited to visit the gallery free of charge; all donations will go to fund initiatives to help the homeless community in the surrounding area.

Free shuttle service from nearby lot, Joe’s Parking, to the gallery will be available on May 9. The show will run until May 14. To find more information or to preview the exhibit, visit

For more information contact Jenna Bartlo, media relations specialist at 562-777-4061 or at

Click here to view an article and photos on the KCET website featuring Leith's work in the Sacred Streets exhibit.


  • Greg Leith May. 7, 2013 at 5:44 PM

    Hey! I recognize this young man! Truth is, Jason has been reaching out to the least and the lost for quite a while. I'm thrilled he gets to show LA how we can all bring beauty and dignity and worth to those we usually pass by.

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