Dreyson's work is inspired by his love for people and the compassion he experienced during a brief experience hitchhiking & homelessness. His vision is to help restore hope and dignity to society’s most vulnerable by creatively reconsidering our capacity for compassion and supporting local nonprofits. He grew up in West Michigan, studied sociology at the University of Michigan, has a background in outdoor recreation, and is a rideshare driver living in Grand Rapids, MI.

The Unhoused Heart invites us to start conversations, invest in community, and explore our capacity for compassion. 50% of profits go to local nonprofits that strive to restore hope and dignity to those in our society that lack adequate housing or have substance use disorder.

I stumbled upon the Unhoused Heart early one morning in 2015 when a tangled rubberband on the corner of my desk caught my eye. I was intrigued by the way the overlapping rubber lines looked on the table’s surface and began to sketch what I was seeing. The first image I noticed was an infinity sign. As I looked closer I saw a broken heart design housed by an overarching line that reminded me of a speech bubble. From another perspective, the whole thing resembled a brain. As I reflected more on the interwoven images it sparked the idea of overlap and alignment and that rare moment during a total solar eclipse when the ‘diamond ring’ effect is visible. As I contemplated the design’s symbolic implications I realized that a tangled rubberband was not only going to unify the drawing project I’d been working on, it was going to totally transform it.

I started drawing lines, circles, and dots in elementary school after a football slipped through my hands and collided with my right eye. During one of countless optometrist visits I described seeing little specs float around that didn’t exist. My optometrist explained they were floaters, that they were the result of retina damage, and asked me to draw what I was seeing and show him on my next visit. I was ecstatic. I loved to draw, enjoyed doing projects, and thought maybe if I did a good job, the drawings could help the doctor heal my eye. While he ended up dismissing my drawings and they did not help heal my eye, the exercise of drawing lines, dots, and circles did ignite my interest in depicting connections, movement, and relationships. By setting a floater-inspired image progression series to the soundtrack of reality’s deconstruction these early drawings turned into The Echo’s Cadence.

The Echo’s Cadence incorporates the Unhoused Heart and represents my attempt to create a lens for looking at reality that is not tied to a specific philosophy, religion, or belief system. This larger project started in the pages of a sketchbook with my desire to create a thought structure that holistically reflected reality. I ended up with a 4x4 grid with Layers along the one side and Components along the other. The first layer is life which encompasses everything that exists and does not exist. The second layer consists exclusively of human life and I call the social layer. We experience the third layer through our sense of femininity and/or masculinity, attraction, and sex. I call this layer the polar layer. The final layer is only known by you. The self layer is very narrow but also very broad. This layer encompasses the entirety of your individual lived experience.

On the other side of the grid, the first component is simply called Matter and includes all the matter in the universe. The next component is Energy and is the thing that transfers. Matter and energy are similar in that neither can be created or destroyed but different insofar as matter has mass, energy has no mass, and mass requires energy to move. This movement pulls the curtain back on the third layer, Space. This layer is simply characterized by the separation of mass. We can either imagine all the matter in the universe as one big ball with no spaces in between or as innumerable specks scattered through the cosmos. Our ability to imagine matter and energy dancing through space brings us to the final layer, Awareness. We are matter. We are energy. We assume space. Through our individual consciousness we are able to experience reality, build relationships, create, and ultimately be the means by which creation experiences itself.

The idea that human life is the means by which creation experiences itself is not my own. I picked it up somewhere and have wrestled with the idea’s implications since. We are matter and energy assuming space pulsating with awareness programmed to survive and love. While it feels like an honor, privilege, and tremendous responsibility, it also feels like we don’t owe anyone anything and should be free to live however we choose. Life is involuntarily thrust upon us. Since nobody asks to be born, who says we need to consider how our individual behavior influences the reality that someone else experiences? We are always voluntarily or involuntarily creating, reinforcing, and shaping the systems and structures that organize reality. Sometimes people shape systems and structures by creating, challenging, and manipulating them. Other times people reinforce the shape of systems and structures through conformity, sedation, and/or unquestioned participation. When it comes to solving social issues, we can find inspiration, direction, and assurance in the words of Nelson Mandela. During his Make Poverty History address in the U.K., Nelson Mandela said, “As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.” He then went on to say, “Massive poverty and obscene inequality are such terrible scourges of our times - times in which the world boasts breathtaking advances in science, technology, industry and wealth accumulation - that they have to rank alongside slavery and apartheid as social evils.”

In the early stages of The Echo’s Cadence I focused on exploring connections among different ideas, developing a framework to organize idea intersections, and crafting an image progression series that resonated with the grid’s structure. When I felt like everything was situated the way I wanted it to be, I got stuck wondering why anyone else would care about the art. The project started as squiggles in a notebook to satisfy my own navel-gazing space-cadet impulses. While I enjoyed where things were going, I knew the project wouldn’t be complete until the grid dissolved, the images were able to unify, and the project had a soul. From this place the Unhoused Heart’s entangled images came to symbolize the aligning of our hearts, minds, and lines of communication with the interests’ of others while inspiring us to unify communities, increase consciousness, and foster bonds that breed liberation.

 

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© 2020 Dreyson Byker