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Kitchener artist documents homelessness in Waterloo Region through her sketches

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A Kitchener artist is documenting homelessness in a different way.

Deb Flynn, who is an urban sketcher, has been travelling to Waterloo Region’s homeless encampments to capture what those living there are going through.

She has been creating art for over 40 years, but started doing urban sketches over the last decade.

After drawing and painting almost every building in the region, she shifted her focus to people – specifically, those experiencing homelessness.

For the last year, she has brought her pencil, paper and paintbrush to homeless encampments to capture what she sees.

She sketches in her car, pairing it with watercolours to bring the images to life.

“Mostly because I try and be elusive and I don’t want anyone to notice where I am,” explained Flynn.

One of the spots were she has spent much of her time is at the Kitchener Go Station, overlooking the Victoria and Weber encampment.

Flynn's drawing of the Victoria and Weber encampment in Kitchener. (Submitted: Deb Flynn)

With every sketch, comes a description of the temperature, conditions and what’s happening in front of her.

Flynn’s sketches will be displayed at the Uptown Gallery starting Jan. 15.

She hopes to generate donations to help the local homeless population, but most of all, she wants to encourage people to pay closer attention.

“[People are] driving past [but] they aren’t seeing the details,” said Flynn. “They’re not seeing the details of muddy shoes outside the tent.”

She added that simply being aware can go a long way.

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