evan bissell and larkin street youth services

Intersection presents: True Compassion

For Immediate Release
Anthem Salgado, Director of Communications & Special Events
anthem@theintersection.org | (415) 626-2787x.103 or
Rebeka Rodriguez, Program Director-Community Engagement & Education
rebeka@theintersection.org | (415)626-2787x.108


Intersection for the Arts presents:

True Compassion

A collaborative workshop series, mural and video facilitated by artist Evan Bissell and Larkin Street Youth Services


Living Mural: March 8 – April 20, 2012
Public Reception: Monday, April 9, 2012, 12-1pm, FREE
Mural Location: Tenderloin Housing Clinic, 126 Hyde St., SF, CA 94102
Info: www.theintersection.org | (415) 626-2787

Image: Evan Bissell with a Larkin Street Youth Services artist standing in front of the True Compassion living mural, now on view in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco.


San Francisco, CA – March 21, 2012 – Intersection for the Arts presents True Compassion, a collaborative workshop series, ephemeral mural and video. Artist Evan Bissell worked with staff and clients of Larkin Street Youth Services (LSYS) to define and investigate the nature and limitations of compassion. Over a period of 12 weeks, a rotating group of nearly 40 youth created sculptures, stencils, drawings and paintings. They interviewed each other, went on observation walks through the Tenderloin and examined different understandings of compassion as well as examples of portraiture and symbol. As the culminating work, the group created symbols of compassion – bright and bold medallion like paintings. The paintings were assembled in a 10’ x 13’ rectangle with a mirrored border and it frames the background where Bissell is creating a series of five paintings over the course of 5 weeks. Each will depict one LSYS individual twice in the same portrait, expressing a compassionate gesture unto themselves. These images will be created each Thursday in chalk from sunrise to sunset. Inspired in part by the practice of sand mandalas in Tibetan Buddhism, the portraits will be left untreated and then washed away each week before the next one is created. The site for this public art project was donated by neighbor organization, Tenderloin Housing Center. The entire installation will come down by April 20th. Its process is being documented and will appear as a video in Intersection for the Arts’ street art exhibition in June 2012. Intersection for the Arts, Larkin Street Youth Services, and Tenderloin Housing Clinic will hold a public celebration of the project on Monday April 9, 12pm.

Evan Bissell’s work is a project-based practice of creating structures of collaborative dialogue and expressions of personal and community truths. Working with groups of people, Bissell facilitates educational, auto-ethnographic and contemplative processes of interviews, research, listening, writing and art-making. Resulting from these processes are collaboratively designed, larger-than-life painted portraits, multi-media participatory exhibitions and public installations. Project themes have ranged from the impact of incarceration on families to imagination as a practice of transformation for youth. Through projects, Bissell has produced over 50 portraits, dozens of free workshops, audio-documentation, celebrations, original give-away timelines, maps and resource guides.

Bissell has exhibited at Alcatraz Island, Intersection for the Arts and SOMArts Cultural Center, created a hybrid set/installation for the premiere of Chinaka Hodge’s play, Mirrors in Every Corner, as well as participated in shows at Southern Exposure and Guerrero Gallery. He is a two-time recipient of the Individual Artist Commission award through the city of San Francisco’s Cultural Equity Grants program, and has received funding from Southern Exposure’s Alternative Exposure program, Puffin Foundation, LEF, the East Bay Fund for Artists and the California Arts Council, among others. He was a 2010 Eureka Fellowship Nominee. He has taught art and led public projects in schools (k-12) throughout the diverse range of schools in the Bay Area, including Leadership Preparatory Academy in Oakland, Martin Luther King Jr. Academy in Marin City, Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley and the Freedom School summer program in San Francisco. Since 2010, Bissell has co-taught and designed Teenalive, a class at El Cerrito High School that combines curriculum addressing masculinity, communication skills and violence with art.

Bissell is a 2005 graduate of Wesleyan University with a double major in Painting and American Studies with an Ethnic Studies concentration. Website: http://web.mac.com/evanbissell/Evan_Bissell/Evan_Bissell.html

The Youth Art Workshop at Intersection for the Arts is a dedicated creative space and opportunity for the young people who live, work, learn, and play in our community to be empowered as leaders, innovators, and artists. The Youth Art Workshop is an art studio and gathering space, as well as a multi-week arts-based curriculum that explores traditional and innovative approaches as a means for understanding and engaging in a dialogue about positive change within our communities. It will take place at the 5M site, in community settings and in virtual worlds. This program will facilitate the collaborative exploration and realization of a neighborhood that is safer, more equitable, and – most importantly – inclusive, hopeful and inspiring. Site: http://theintersection.org

Larkin Street’s Youth Art Program has been a hallmark of our services since we opened our doors as a neighborhood drop-in center in 1984. Art projects—from painting to poetry to journal making—create valuable opportunities to engage youth in our services, to encourage them to express themselves creatively, and to begin the difficult and daunting process of leaving street life behind them. The program provides a variety of hands-on visual and performance art activities at Larkin Street’s housing and drop-in sites citywide. The program also features artistic and cultural outings to Bay Area theaters, museums, galleries, and community centers. And there have been significant community partners in the arts, among them YouthSpeaks and Intersection for the Arts.

Intersection for the Arts and Larkin Street have had a community partnering relationship for over fifteen years. In that time, client youths have seen the theatrical plays of Campo Santo Company, poetry readings, gallery shows. Some youths have taken workshops in acting there, internships. Site: http://www.larkinstreetyouth.org/

Established in 1965, Intersection is widely considered to be one of the most vital cultural centers on the West Coast. Intersection recently forged a set of unique cross-sector partnerships rooted in a shared belief that art and creativity realized through meaningful, inclusive, and collaborative places fuels vibrancy and facilitates positive change. The change the world needs now happens when we are outside of our silos – colliding with complex experiences, grappling with new metaphors, understanding people who are different than us, having to find new ways to communicate and problem solve. Through our unique partnership, we are collaborating on The 5M Project. Led by Forest City, The 5M Project is a 4 acre multi-phase, mixed-use development project located at the intersection of several beautifully distinct neighborhoods in the middle of downtown San Francisco. With 5M, we are prototyping the next generation of urban development that embraces diversity of thought, life experience, and culture as essential to positive economic and social change in our neighborhoods. 5M proposes that art – creative collaboration, placemaking, and problem solving – builds understanding and community, celebrates and mobilizes neighborhood assets, and drives inclusive change.


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