Many homeless people struggle with identity issues, since most people who end up on the streets go through a period of adjustment and feel like they've lost touch with who they were in their former life.
But those who try to maintain their identity as their life falls apart around them often find creative ways to make a record of their lives, using writing, art or photography to express themselves so others can see what they're going through.
Outsider artist Lee Godie spent three decades living on the streets of Chicago from the 1960s to 1994 when she passed away, and during that time she never stopped making art, mainly Impressionistic mixed media and altered Photo Booth photos.
If you were lucky enough to meet Lee at a train station or on the steps of the Art Institute of Chicago and she liked the look of you she would offer to sell you some of her art, and Lee is now "Chicago's most collected artist":
She made drawings and paintings with whatever materials she had to hand. She then sold them to commuters on their way to work—but only if she liked the look of you. If she didn’t—then Godie rolled up her portfolio of pictures, put them under her arm, bid you “Good day” and moved on to the next potential buyer. That’s an enviable, if bloody-minded determination.
For Godie chose to live on the streets. She had money—enough to keep her dry, warm and snug. But she preferred living rough. Why? No one seems to be quite sure. At night, in sub-zero temperatures Godie slept on “a concrete bench…clutching her large black portfolio” of artworks. How Godie ended up homeless is open to conjecture. What is known she was married twice and had four children. After the deaths of two of her children, Godie began her life living on the streets in the 1960s.