Untitled from Ladies. Photograph Copyright Paula Allen.
While working in a homeless shelters in New York, Allen began photographing women in the shelters, capturing pieces of their personalities. Paula Allen's interest in working in shelters in New York was inspired by her the urgency that she felt when she realized that their were many women in New York who were homeless. She began volunteering her time, sleeping with the women at night. Through her relationship with the women, Paula documented their lives. Paula Allen's photographs show the communities that these women had become apart of.
Collaboration between Paula Allen and Eve Ensler is the creation of the book, Ladies. Between the two, they have created a close examination of what being homeless means.This social constructed grouping of women is given a voice from the perspective of the homeless women. Through their own words one can hear the hopelessness of a system that gives little solutions to the problems these women face everyday.
From the Introduction of Ladies:
Paula Allen and Eve Ensler have provided proof of a failing system. Rehabilitation or assimilation into society can not be achieved with the present system. Homeless shelters deal with the issues after the affect. Preventative measures are the responsibility of everyone. In a close examination of the present state of Welfare it can be seen that the means to reenter society through working is not the solution. Presently women who are receiving Welfare are told they have to work. The majority of these women have little education from a system that has already failed. They work in unskilled jobs or non-union jobs were they make minimum wage, have to pay for child care, and are not given long term encouragement.
Women who receive Welfare have been kept from entering the mainstream work force. If they could obtain training to pursue a trade that was Unionized, a system that over the years has helped and hindered the middle-class, their presence would be advantageous to keeping the capitalistic society running.