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This new book focuses on Johnson County’s ‘invisible’ homeless

Olathe photographer Sharon Rodriguez (right) is trying to raise awareness for Johnson County’s homeless population by photographing and interviewing people like Randi (left), a woman who was forced to live in her car after losing her home last year. Rodriguez’s photos and handwritten stories are featured in her new book, “Homeless, Not Invisible.”
Olathe photographer Sharon Rodriguez (right) is trying to raise awareness for Johnson County’s homeless population by photographing and interviewing people like Randi (left), a woman who was forced to live in her car after losing her home last year. Rodriguez’s photos and handwritten stories are featured in her new book, “Homeless, Not Invisible.” tljungblad@kcstar.com

Two years ago, Olathe artist Sharon Rodriguez started photographing and interviewing homeless people she encountered in Johnson County.

Her goal: to spotlight an “invisible” population in the wealthiest county in Kansas.

Her striking photos and handwritten stories have since been displayed at area libraries and art galleries. In December, Rodriguez’s work was featured in The Star.

Olathe photographer Sharon Rodriguez, 70, focuses her camera on the homeless in Johnson County, the most affluent county in Kansas. Rodriguez, a mom, grandmother and a great-grandmother, is a former IT worker who has found her passion as an artist

Now the artist has gathered her photos in a new book called “Homeless, Not Invisible.” The book will be released Friday at a free event from 6 to 8 p.m. at the InterUrban ArtHouse, 8001 Newton St. in Overland Park. Several of Rodriguez’s enlarged photos will be on display. Those who attend can purchase prints or buy “Homeless, Not Invisible” for $25. At 6:45 p.m., the photographer will talk briefly about her project and answer questions.

Rodriguez said this week she hopes to soon sell her book on Amazon. She’s also working with the Olathe Public Library on a fall “coffee and conversation” series with the homeless, and with Olathe Northwest High School’s video department on student-produced documentaries that shed more light on Johnson County’s poorest people.

The artist said she’s still photographing and interviewing people who live in parks, cars and on the streets — and learning every day that Johnson County’s homeless population needs more help.

“I don’t know if the homeless are getting the services they want or need,” she says.

For more info about Friday’s release of “Homeless, Not Invisible,” go to interurbanarthouse.org or check out the event page on Facebook.

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