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Artist Buying Signs From Homeless For Exhibit

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A Texas artist mas walking around Chicago on Friday, buying the signs homeless people use to try to get people to give them money.

Willie Baronet approached a homeless man on the Michigan Avenue Bridge, and paid him $20 for two of his signs.

Baronet said he has been buying signs from the homeless for 21 years.

"They're unique," he said, "they're artifacts, and in some cases they tell a lot about the story of the person."


Baronet is an artist and a professor of advertising at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He'll use the signs in an art installation.

He said he's doing it to try to get people to treat each other with more kindness.

"I really am trying to raise awareness that we're all the same. I used to think it was us and them but it's all just us, so I'm really trying to get people to slow down a little bit and be a little bit nicer," he said.

The man he met on the Michigan Avenue Bridge is named Ulysses. Baronet asked him what he thinks about putting hundreds of signs in an art installation.

"I think it'd be great, you know, let the world see there's a lot of homeless people out here, you know, struggling," Ulysses said.

Baronet used crowd-funding to pay for a 24-city tour, buying signs from the homeless, and shooting a documentary.

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