Kevin B. Chen
Evan Bissell
True Compassion (video still), 2012
Video (total running time 8:50)

Video shot and edited by Vladimir Gurewich

Over several months, Bissell worked with Larkin Street Youth Services (LSYS) to define and investigate compassion through discussion of community and historical models, painting, stenciling, and writing.

Using Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s definition of true compassion as a starting point, workshop participants created collaborative symbols of compassion: bold medallion-like paintings that examined compassion on personal and societal levels. These paintings formed the frame for a rotating set of ephemeral portraits, double-portraits drawn in chalk pastel and installed in public on Hyde Street (between Golden Gate and Turk) in the Tenderloin. The portraits depicted LSYS youth clients and staff interacting with themselves in a self-chosen compassionate gesture. Inspired in part by the practice of Tibetan Buddhist sand mandalas, the five portraits were left untreated and wiped away each week before the following portrait was created in the same place every Thursday. Passersby frequently questioned why Bissell erased the portraits each week: Why do all this work and not make it last? As portraits of neighborhood youth, the impermanent nature served as reminders that true compassion begins by valuing oneself and those already around. Bissell presents a video of the creation and destruction of the portraits.

Participating Artists: Josiah, Reyanna, Evelynn, Brittany, Thomas, Ceci, Antionay, Yesenia, Manuma, Gia, Aaron, Brittany, Rayana, Chandra, Kevin, Derek, Ebony, Angel, Felicia, Nigel, Precious, Sara, Ciara, Pete, Angel, Elter, A.J., Larae, Joseph, Elston, Teana, Ressie, Mariella, Jovan, Shantel, Jonathan, Joseph, Ishmael, Basir, John, and Prince Jerrick.
Workshop Facilitators: Yukako Ezoe, Lex, Peter Carpou, and Rebeka Rodriguez.
Project Partners: Intersection for the Arts and Larkin Street Youth Services.
Special Thanks: Tenderloin Housing Clinic, Boxcar Theater, Dan Smith, and the Hyde Street community.
Music: Ramsey Lewis Trio, The Last Poets, and Rich Medina.

Motion Graphics: In and Beyond the Street

June 13 – August 25, 2012
Intersection for the Arts
San Francisco, CA
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