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Seeing Hunger Through a Virtual-Reality Lens

A new virtual-reality exhibit in Denver invites legislators, the public and tourists to see the faces and stories behind the statistics of hunger in Colorado. (Hunger Free Colorado)
A new virtual-reality exhibit in Denver invites legislators, the public and tourists to see the faces and stories behind the statistics of hunger in Colorado. (Hunger Free Colorado)
October 8, 2019

DENVER — A new exhibit at the McNichols Building in downtown Denver invites visitors to experience what it's like to not know where your next meal is coming from.

"Hunger Through My Lens" began in 2013 as a photography project, featuring pictures taken by 22 Coloradans who had experienced hunger. This year's installment has added video, audio, written testimony and a virtual-reality component.

Hunger Free Colorado’s M’Lissa Baker, the project's manager, said most people don't know if someone is experiencing hunger.

"Hunger is a hard thing to see,” Baker said. “So this is trying to create that full picture of the different ways that somebody can experience hunger in the state, in hopes of de-stigmatizing this solvable issue."

Admission is free, and Baker said she hopes the Civic Center Park location, just a stone's throw from the State Capitol building, will draw legislators, the public and tourists to see the faces and stories behind the statistics: 1-in-11 Coloradans, from all walks of life and in all parts of the state, currently are experiencing hunger.

For the project's video segments, viewed on iPads with headsets, Baker interviewed people willing to answer the difficult question, “How did you become hungry?” Visitors can also strap on a virtual-reality headset for a fly-on-the-wall experience as people struggle to perform a task most of us take for granted.

"And hearing that internal dialogue and anxiety and fear of doing something as simple as grocery shopping, which a lot of us take for granted as being just another easy task to do on a weekend,” Baker said.

Visitors will be asked to write down a word or sentence about what hunger means to them before, and again after, experiencing the exhibit. The sheets will be placed on a "wall" meant to symbolize the barriers to food many Coloradans face daily, and how everyone can lend a hand to make change.

The "Hunger Through My Lens" exhibit is open in Denver through October 25, and plans are under way for a statewide tour in 2020.

Disclosure: Hunger Free Colorado contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Poverty Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO