Curatorial Projects > somewhere in advance of nowhere: youth, imagination and transformation (2008)

somewhere in advance of nowhere: youth, imagination and transformation by Evan Bissell

September 26 - November 22, 2008
Intersection for the Arts
San Francisco, CA

This multi-tiered art project explores and celebrates the transformative potential of the creative process in the development and expression of individual voice and social activism among today's youth. The exhibition's title, taken from Jayne Cortez's book of poems, serves as the heart of the project’s message highlighting the urgency for the cultivation of imagination as a way of envisioning a new present. In residence at Intersection since late August, Bissell, in his first solo exhibition, deftly combines his painting prowess and artistic vision with multiple writing, arts education, and creative community projects with Bay Area youth and artist educators. In both outside and inside environments, collaborative and individual practices, Bissell utilizes his process to inform his artwork as well as using his artwork to shape his process. This project, part of a larger Arts Commission funded Civic Life Project, encompasses the gallery exhibition, public art installations, youth-based writing and visual arts workshops, and civic engagement opportunities celebrating the importance and impact of the arts, education, and creative community in the process of individual and social transformation.

"The project is a documentation and celebration of the power of having the time, space, and loving community support to realize one's voice through creativity, imagination, observation, expression and reflection. It is the transformative potential of a creative process rooted in self-expression, communal creation, and supportive community that this project intends to highlight. Education in both process and knowledge has always been central to the project." - Evan Bissell

Over the course of the past year, Bissell collaborated with members of SPOKES, the Youth Advisory Board of local non-profit literary and educational organization Youth Speaks, to create close to twenty portraits of youth poets that reflect their engagement with spoken word and writing. In addition to the four on display here, over a dozen have been installed over the past month in public locations throughout the city, in neighborhoods ranging from SOMA, Western Addition, Mission District, Tenderloin, West Portal, and Golden Gate Park. The location of each acrylic and oil pastel portrait was chosen by the poet and is a reflection of the neighborhoods, communities, and environments that have special, significant meaning to each individual - a public and honest recognition of the creative outpourings of these young artists. The portraits will be on public display throughout the run of this exhibition (be sure to pick up a map), and each portrait has a phone number attached to it that can be called to hear a poem recorded by that specific individual.

In addition to the portraits and the large mural that Bissell painted here while in residence, there are also works on display created by artists ranging in age from 13 to 21 in recent workshops led by artist educators in our gallery that asked each person to create their own portrait of someone who has broadened their imagination. More artwork will be added over the course of the exhibition from the workshops offered in relationship to this project, free to young people age 13 to 23. Information and registration can be found on our website You are also invited to directly contribute to the exhibition in a number of ways, including a collaborative painting, and a collective shelf of portraits. We hope you can participate in the many corresponding workshops, panels, and performances over the next two months, and join us in reflecting the positive contributions of young people to their communities and the empowerment of the youth voice through access to positive creative and educational opportunities.