"Man in a Van"

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A 29-year-old artist from Oregon has been traveling around the U.S. collecting stories from people who have been hurting amid the recession.

In the past year, Aaron Heideman had lost his job and begun sleeping in his van, so he decided to turn his misfortune into an opportunity. He created what he calls a nationwide conceptual art piece. During each stop, he unscrolls a roll of Tyvek, lays it in front of the van and encourages passers-by to write their thoughts.

Heideman estimates that thousands of people have written messages since he started July 1. He's discovered a lot of people are struggling but some are refocusing their lives.

Heideman plans to be in Pittsburgh on Monday and Tuesday before ending in Michigan by Sept. 15 to enter his work in an art fair.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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