Courage Within: Women Without Shelter

January 27, 2022 – April 23, 2022

 Denese Sanders, Witness (detail), 2020-2021, three of five panels; oil on wood, concrete, steel.

Courage Within: Women Without Shelter is the culmination of three years of work including bookarts, drawing, painting, and printmaking workshops designed specifically for local women experiencing homelessness and led by four artists: Dora Lisa Rosenbaum, Denese Sanders, Amanda Salm, and Melissa Smedley. The exhibition will include new conceptual works by these artists as well as installations of work created by the participants in the workshops.

“The goal of this partnership and the impetus behind the exhibition is to help make visible the lives of women who courageously face unspeakable challenges every day. MMA is committed to being a place of belonging for our entire community, so we are especially honored to be part of this important artistic collaboration and proud to present this powerful and remarkable work,” says MMA Executive Director, Corey Madden.

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About the Artists

The work of Amanda Salm is textile-based. Her work in the exhibit is concerned with the national subject of housing. She says, “It became apparent to me while working on the project that there are many regional, state and national obstacles to providing reasonable shelter for homeless and vulnerable populations.”

Dora Lisa Rosenbaum’s work includes installation, sculpture, printmaking, and drawing. She focuses on the immense physical labor at the core of women without shelter’s daily experience and existence. She says, “My work explores the difficulty these women face in maintaining their identities and sense of self, and the central role belongings, their things, play in reinforcing these.”

Melissa Smedley’s art for the exhibition at MMA consists of sculptural installation, video performance, and spoken words that seek to make visible these women’s stories and struggles. “My responses are inspired by spending time with the women and while learning more about the array of cultural forces that conspire to make unaccompanied women in our community so vulnerable and unsupported.”

Denese Sanders’ artwork focuses on the women themselves through portraiture. The work aims to reveal the courage and individuality of each woman. This work addresses the complex nature of being looked at and judged in juxtaposition with the recurring pain of feeling invisible and forgotten. She says, “By nature, we all need to be seen and heard in the world, yet for women living with homelessness, identity exposure is too great a risk to their safety and pride, while chronic invisibility crushes their emotional wellbeing.”

The Collaborators

Critical Ground is an artist collective comprised of four mid-career artists who gather bimonthly to critique and support the development of one another’s artwork. 

The Fund for Homeless Women (FHW) was established in 2012 to help create and sustain innovative services for unsheltered women on the Monterey Peninsula.

Open Ground Studios is an artist collective and community studio; a place where art is the vehicle for learning, practice and connection. 

View Upcoming Programming


Thank you to our sponsor, The Fund for Homeless Women,
for helping make our programming possible.

Thank you to the following organizations for supporting this exhibition.

Carmel Woman’s Club

Carmel Rotary Club Fund of the Community Foundation for Monterey County