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Dallas Man Travels Country Buying Homeless Signs

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    Curtis Cronn/Flickr
    Pregnant & homeless sign, Alaskan Way, Seattle.

    A Texas artist who is traveling across the country purchasing signs from homeless people stopped in St. Paul Tuesday.

    The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports Willie Baronet of Dallas made the 11th stop of his monthlong cross-country trip through 24 U.S. cities.

    During his visit, Baronet met with Margaret Kelly, a Lutheran pastor who is organizing a new congregation to serve the homeless and others living in poverty. The pair scouted sign-purchasing locations together, paying $10 to $20 each for cardboard signs made by homeless people.

    The artist hopes to raise awareness of homelessness by producing a documentary film and a book, as well as featuring the signs in future art installations and exhibits.

    "There is a part of me that wants to make people uncomfortable, too," Baronet said. "I'm trying to but it in a context where they're less likely to ignore the signs."

    His project is being funded by the $48,000 he raised on a crowd-sourced funding site.

    Baronet has been purchasing signs for 21 years and estimates his collection to be around 700 signs. He said he paid $4 to $40 for each sign. They say things such as ""Hungry" or "Embarrassed mother with three kids. Don't want to be on the street."

    "Some of the signs I find most compelling are ones that are just scrawled and look like the emotion and just the pain is in the letters," he said.

    Baronet said he bought his first sign in response to the guilt he felt when seeing a person asking for money on the street.