This is My Story: Women and Homelessness

This project provides an intimate look at the lives of women who are or who have been homeless. During my year and a half of volunteering at The Living Room, I made friends with the women and children, led art and meditation groups, and sketched stories of the activities. 

As women got to know me, they talked about their lives, let me sketch their portraits, and helped me to to tell their stories. When the pandemic hit and the doors were shut on indoor services, I sketched the transition and switched to portraits of women wearing masks as they came for the food and other services at the outdoor location.

By sharing the women’s stories in a unique and relatable way, the portrait stories help to erase judgment and encourage empathy towards a group of individuals who have been dehumanized by society. Each story is unique and  breaks down the illusion of a “typical homeless person”. 

Like me, you may find yourself wishing that you could know them more personally, to learn how they found the strength to deal with adversity, including surviving without a home. My own life has been immeasurably enriched with these encounters and the generosity of women willing to share their difficult stories.

-Susan Cornelis 

To learn more about The Living Room, please visit their website

Donations are appreciated.

Susan Cornelis, M.S.W. is a watercolor artist and mixed media workshop teacher who has been documenting the personal stories of homeless women, fire recovery, climate change and nursing homes. Her illustrations are a kind of visual journalism which is often done quickly in the moment, combining ink and watercolor drawings with words.
For this project, she offers her experience from early years as a clinical social worker and meditation teacher and her 25 years as a professional exhibiting fine artist, illustrator, art teacher and mentor. For more information visit her website at