Sculptor Loren Naji
has long been disturbed by the number of homeless people in the country. “It seems absurd that humane governments would allow homelessness to exist,” he says. “Our society should not have homeless people and we should not have all these empty houses.”
So, a year ago he set out to create an eight-foot diameter sphere to make a statement about the United States’ indifference to the homeless population and apathy toward unused homes.
“Our urban landscape is riddled with vacant homes, abandoned and boarded shut, while the homeless sleep on sidewalks in front of these empty houses slated for demolition and landfills.
The sphere is entitled Emoh
– the word “home” spelled backwards – and is made entirely with materials Naji has salvaged from demolished homes, including trash, furniture and debris taken from curbs in Tremont and Ohio City.
“On the garbage day I drive around looking for things people throw away,” the 1998 Cleveland Institute of Art
graduate explains. “The panels of the sphere are made of plywood, which I bought, but everything else is found materials.”
Beginning this fall Naji will live in Emoh
and begin a nine-city tour, hoping to raise awareness of homelessness.
“This signifies that as so-called humane, intelligent human beings we really do things in a backwards way when it comes to priorities,” explains Naji of Emoh
’s meaning. “How is it possible that such intelligence allows its own kind to sleep in the streets without shelter while there are so many vacant structures boarded up, rotting and on their way to the landfills, polluting our home, the Earth?"
Naji will compete in ArtPrize
in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in September for the chance to win a $200,000 juried prize or a $200,000 prize based on public vote. Other planned stops on the tour include Detroit, Columbus, Indianapolis, Chicago, Ann Arbor, Pittsburgh, New York and Boston. Locally, Naji will also be making a stop at SPACES
Naji will haul the 1,000-pound sculpture on a trailer to each city on his tour. He points out that Emoh
also represents the Earth itself – with the panels forming graphic representations of streets and countryside.
While living in Emoh
, Naji will have a bed, a camping toilet, a mailbox and a laptop computer. He will get electricity to the sphere with an extension cord, plugged into his hosts’ outlets. Small windows will allow visitors a glimpse into his life inside Emoh
, is not Naji’s first foray into spherical art. While he studied painting at CIA, he developed an interest in painting on 3D surfaces. “My art seems to have somehow manipulated into making spheres,” he says. Naji went on to study graphic design in post-graduate work on Kent State University.
His 3,000-pound work They Have Landed
, an eight-foot in diameter time capsule to be opened in 2050, is stationed at the Ohio City RTA station across from the West Side Market, while Global Beat
is an interactive, spherical drum set made from repurposed pots, pans and miscellaneous items.