The Visual Storyteller
Rebecca Kiger is an internationally recognized photographer who took on the incredible responsibility of documenting the ways in which COVID-19 was disproportionately affecting the unhoused population in Wheeling. “When I became aware of the toll the pandemic was taking on our unhoused, I was shocked. I wanted to tell the story through photographs so that people could connect to them,” Kiger says.
“Sometimes people feel scared when they haven’t had the experience of connecting with people who are different from them,” she says. She believes that building a connection is how we come to understand one another. “Photographs illustrate the human condition—their passion, their fight, and their ingenuity.”
Kiger spent many months getting to know the unhoused people who call Wheeling home, as well as the people who work with them, while she chronicled their struggles and successes through her photography. “I so admire the people in our community who are working to find solutions,” she says.
Kiger brought awareness to the seven-fold increase in deaths among the unhoused in Wheeling during the pandemic, a statistic that mirrored the nation’s. The work was featured in TIME magazine in 2021. Later that year, the city of Wheeling announced a new position of homeless liaison. “I aim to show intimacy and connection, that there is hope and redemption even in darkness. By bringing these issues to a larger platform, I intend to use my skills to amplify stories in our region that deserve attention.”
Written by Megan Huff
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