ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — A new exhibition that opens this fall at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts at St. Bonaventure University will help museum visitors to understand the chronic community concern of homelessness.

“Out of Darkness” is a portrait series created by Buffalo-area artist Gary L. Wolfe. The portraits, painted over a two-year period, are of homeless people who Wolfe connected with in order to raise public awareness of the plight of the homeless.

Wolfe recognizes that the painted portrait has historically been an artistic expression reserved for those with the resources and reputation to warrant such attention. In this project, he has sought to portray those whose dignity can be seen in and in spite of their assumed powerlessness and vulnerability.

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The exhibition opens on Sept. 13 and will be on view until Nov. 3. 

On Sept. 29, the Quick Center for the Arts will host a gallery talk at 2 p.m. Wolfe, along with Karen Carman from the Matt Urban Hope Center in Buffalo, will speak to the audience about the portrait series and the problems surrounding the homeless. Along to meet guests will be a few of the people who sat for portraits with the artist.

“My greatest lesson in doing this series of portraits was to learn that there is no ‘they,’” said Wolfe. “Saint Bonaventure wrote that everything in creation is an example and illustration of the one God mystery in space and time. The persons painted in these pictures helped me to see our mutual oneness in this mystery. Hence, it seems a natural and fitting thing to show these works at St. Bonaventure University and I am honored to have this opportunity to do so.”

Collaborating with the Quick Center on this project is the university’s Franciscan Center for Social Concern (FCSC), a program of University Ministries. The FCSC has begun work to establish a food pantry on campus this fall.

“As part of the kickoff to the exhibition and the pantry, we invite students, staff and faculty – as well as parents and the public – to join us in placing non-perishable food items in the colorful boxes around the campus,” said Alice Miller Nation, director of the Franciscan Center for Social Concern. Drop-off boxes are located in University Ministries (McGinley-Carney Center), Hopkins Hall, and the William E. and Ann L. Swan Business Center.

The pantry will be accessible to SBU students and employees, Miller Nation said. Additional details, including the hours and pantry location, will be announced in the coming weeks.

Miller Nation also hopes to expand the pantry’s offerings to include refrigerated and freezer items in the future if the necessary equipment is secured.

St. Bonaventure joins hundreds of other institutions across the country that have established food pantries for their students.

According to the College and University Food Bank Alliance, 30 percent of college students are food insecure and 56 percent of those students are working. The USDA defines food insecurity as a situation where “consistent access to adequate food is limited by the lack of money and other resources at times during the year.” The Food Bank Alliance is an organization of campus-based programs focused on alleviating food insecurity, hunger and poverty among college and university students in the United States.

Miller Nation believes that some students try to minimize student loan debt by moving to campus housing that might not include a meal plan or by moving off campus.

“For some college students, not having access to nutritious food can be temporary, such as right before they get paid. For others it can be more long term. What is important to us is to ensure our campus community has consistent access to nutritious food,” she said.

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