True Compassion (2012) was a workshop series, mural performance and video. Organized by Intersection for the Arts, I worked with staff and clients of Larkin Street Youth Services to define and investigate the nature and limitations of compassion. Over 12 weeks, a rotating group of nearly 40 young people created sculptures, stencils, drawings and paintings, interviewed each other, went on observational walks through the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco and examined different cultural and historical notions of compassion, portraiture and symbol. As the culminating work, the group created symbols of compassion and staged double-portraits of group members approaching themselves with a gesture of compassion.
The symbol paintings were assembled in a 10’ x 13’ frame, bordered with mirror, that contained a black background. In this blank space, each Thursday for five weeks I painted a double-portrait from first light to dark. Inspired in part by the practice of sand mandalas in Tibetan Buddhism, the portraits were untreated and then washed away each week before the next one was created. A video of the project was exhibited at Intersection for the Arts.
*The title, “True Compassion” comes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence (co-written by Vincent Harding).
Video shot and edited by Vladimir Gurewich
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: Evan Bissell, 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.
Additional Sound and Video Editing: Lucas Guilkey, Alejandro Acosta