Meet one of Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen’s partners: Judith Rubenstein, a New York City-based artist and volunteer. Judith has partnered with Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen to work with Soup Kitchen guests and other individuals throughout New York City to help them express themselves through art as part of her new project: Searching for Home.
Judith Rubenstein saw an exhibit by Ted Joans that includes accordion books filled with art from around the world. She loved the idea of art travelling, and that inspired her to create her own project with art from around New York City.
Judith’s project focuses on unhoused New Yorkers and the idea of Searching for Home, which became the title of her project. With funding from the Puffin Foundation to provide a small stipend all participants, Judith set up stations at local Soup Kitchens and Food Pantries, including Holy Apostles, and asked guests to draw or write in the accordion books, prompting them with the question, “what does home mean to you?”
The result? Booklets full of thoughts and stories from our unhoused neighbors across New York City. This powerful art represents the diversity of the community of New Yorkers living in shelters and on the streets.
For guests at Holy Apostles, the act of drawing about homelessness and what home means to them is therapeutic. “It’s like art therapy,” Judith shared.
When asylum seekers from Venezuela started arriving in New York City in great numbers, Judith saw an opportunity to engage a new community in Searching for Home. At Holy Apostles, Judith collected artwork and writing from these new New Yorkers. Many of these new asylum seekers who had just arrived from Texas after long journeys enjoyed participating, including young children who loved using special markers and paper.
On a recent cold November day, a crowd was gathered around Judith outside the Soup Kitchen. Guests lined up and sat, a few at a time, drawing in the booklets. Many asked for more pages, excited by their ideas and the ability to share their emotions with a larger audience.
What’s next for this project? Judith is continuing to fill up several more accordion books with contributions from the most recent asylum seekers. Events are in the works for future pop-up exhibits, where audiences will be able to view these books and contribute to new books.