New Gallery Exhibition Highlights Art Humanizing the Homeless

This thought-provoking joint exhibit from Willie Baronet and Leah den Bok features signs and portraits that humanize the homeless and will run through November 17.

Patrons examine a collection of homeless signs in the "HOME? Humanizing the Homeless: Portraits and Signs" exhibition.
Patrons examine a collection of homeless signs in the "HOME? Humanizing the Homeless: Portraits and Signs" exhibition.

SMU advertising professor Willie Baronet and Canadian-based artist Leah de Bok have teamed up to create a joint art exhibit that raises awareness of homelessness. HOME? Humanizing the Homeless: Portraits and Signs, which will run from October 17 through November 17 in the Jordan Gallery, features portraits of people experiencing homelessness by den Bok and homeless signs from Baronet’s WE ARE ALL HOMELESS project.


“I’ve been buying signs for 30 years now, and my hope is always that by sharing them in this context it might help break down the walls that separate us. I want us all to see the humanity in those who are most often invisible,” said Baronet. “There are things we all share: loss, loneliness, the trials and pains of being a human. This project is a reminder to me that we are all connected and that we need to care for each other.”


Baronet’s signs are poignant and thought-provoking, offering a glimpse into the lives of people experiencing homelessness. Additionally, den Bok’s portraits are intimate and powerful, capturing the dignity and humanity of her subjects.


“I want my work to show the world that people experiencing homelessness are more than just statistics,” said den Bok. “They are individuals with stories to tell and lives to live. I hope that my portraits will help the SMU and Dallas communities to see the humanity in those who are most often invisible.”


The exhibit is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the WE ARE ALL HOMELESS Instagram page at



Artists Willie Baronet and Leah den Bok pose in the gallery of their exhibition.

Willie Baronet and Leah den Bok pose in the gallery of their "HOME? Humanizing the Homeless: Portraits and Signs" exhibition.




Dallas-based artist and Southern Methodist University (SMU) professor Willie Baronet has been buying homeless signs for more than 20 years. He has created innovative art exhibits and performances highlighting the critical issue of homelessness and the concept of home.


The WE ARE ALL HOMELESS project began in 1993 due to the awkwardness Willie felt when he pulled up to an intersection and encountered a person holding a sign and asking for help. Originally, he avoided eye contact with those on the street, unwilling to really see them, and in doing so avoided seeing parts of himself. That changed once he started asking them if they would sell their signs – and WE ARE ALL HOMELESS began. 


Since 2009, Willie has installed dozens of art exhibits worldwide at notable locations, including: The Anchorage Museum; Utah Museum of Contemporary Art; NYU; UPenn; University of Cambridge; both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in 2016; and more. The award-winning documentary, “Signs of Humanity,” (Amazon Prime) has been watched hundreds of thousands of times, and the film and installations provide an experience for people to explore the humanity of the signs and questions regarding the nature of home, compassion and what it means to truly see each other.


Today, the project continues to raise awareness about homelessness and aims to change preconceived ideas about those experiencing homelessness and their situations. It’s been featured in international media including NPR: All Things Considered, Buzzfeed, Al Jazeera, HuffPost, UpWorthy, Yahoo! News and dozens of others. For more information, visit



About Humanizing the Homeless


Leah den Bok is an acclaimed fashion and portrait photographer who dedicated herself to capturing the stories and images of people experiencing homelessness. Since 2015, she has travelled to major cities worldwide, including Toronto, New York, and Los Angeles, to document the struggles of those affected by homelessness for her project, Humanizing the Homeless. Through her work, den Bok aims to humanize and raise awareness of homelessness.


Her powerful images and stories have been compiled in a book series titled Nowhere to Call Home: Photographs and Stories of People Experiencing Homelessness and she donates 100% of her profits from her books and exhibits to local homeless shelters.


Leah's work has garnered worldwide attention and featured in major media outlets such as the BBC, CBS and Vogue Italia. She has also exhibited and spoken at prominent events such as ARTWALK New York 2017, the Women of the World 2018 festival in Brisbane and the She Talks events in Ontario.


Leah is a recipient of numerous awards, including the IDRF Youth Impact Award 2018, the Murray Clerkson Award 2019, the SNAP Photo Competition 2020, and the Ascend Rising Star of the Year Award 2020, which recognize her outstanding contributions to her field.