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'I want some social awareness'| DC artist paints to show rent crisis in the US

Murals will be on display in Washington, D.C. for two weeks, representing the millions of Americans who struggle to pay rent.

A local artist will be featured Wednesday at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C. as part of an exhibition trying to shine a light on a crisis millions of Americans across the country face every day -- paying rent.

“The Doors of Make Room” project features 11 painted murals – doors, to be more specific – representing 11 million U.S. homes dealing with the rental crisis. The doors will be on display throughout Washington, D.C. in high traffic and high tourist areas until September 28.

It’s a serious message with a detailed plan, but Cathy Abramson doesn’t carry herself with the weight of millions on her shoulders. She just loves what she does and hopes to be one piece of a much larger solution.

Abramson has lived in the DMV for more than 40 years – taking her love of creation beyond the canvas and out into areas she thinks are not getting a lot of attention.

“I want some social awareness and political awareness in the people who view my paintings,” Abramson said.

Being inside her art studio, tucked into a corner around Rockville and North Bethesda, Maryland, feels like a quiet sanctuary of sorts. Brushes, paint, and a calming sense of relaxation carry through, despite the heavy topic and discussion she wants her work to evoke.

Aside from simply fostering a conversation, Abramson wants any attention given to her work to evolve and bleed into the personal impact it’s having.

“I want people to see the reaction to the people primarily in my paintings,” Abramson said. “Who they are, what’s going on around them, why are they in that particular setting, and how could that setting be improved?”

Make Room Inc. – the non-profit organization putting this exhibition together – is based out of Silver Spring, Maryland and focuses on the nationwide rental crisis. The mission statement on their website reads, “Our mission is to expose the human suffering and societal costs of the rental housing crisis and to advocate for solutions to end housing insecurity for 11 million households nationwide.”

When an opportunity came to blend her art with a larger message, Abramson jumped at the chance to showcase her talent and voice.

“I heard about this project, and I thought, oh my god this is right up my alley -- of course I wanted to do it,” she said.

There’s no simple solution to such a layered issue impacting millions of people. But there’s hope that disagreement and communication can lead to fruitful conversations and potentially a long-term solution.

“People have different interpretations of any of my paintings, and I’m very happy to hear what they bring into a given painting also,” Abramson said. “Because I don’t see everything in the painting, and that I find fascinating.”

You can reach Gio on social media through Twitter @Gio_Insignares, on Facebook @Gio Insignares WUSA9, or email ginsignares@wusa9.com.

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