Here is an article written by Simon Hodgson for the California College of the Art’s Alumni News site about my Philadelphia project and the overlap of working as an artist and organizer. Read it here.
This essay was featured in the exhibition catalogue for Home is something I carry with me and later published in Art Practical, Issue 2 “Nomads and Residents.”
Home is something in a state of perpetual motion. Through the repetition of actions and rituals we construct, rebuild, and reaffirm home day after day. It is a place we are constantly moving towards and yet, it is often something we must distance ourselves from. There are homes we outgrow or that never quite fit—places we must leave in order to remake ourselves, carrying with us past experiences as we generate our new versions of home. For thousands of people, the search for home led to San Francisco. Despite the city’s small geographical scale measuring a mere seven square miles, the looming threat of earthquakes, and the rising cost of housing, San Francisco remains a destination that people gravitate towards. Over time its popularity was established through the promise of gold in 1848, the political and cultural rebellion in the Sixties and its reputation as a center for queer culture. San Francisco has been built and rebuilt through the stories of those who first inhabited the land and those who continue to migrate here.
My house has three stories. I live on the top floor amidst Victorian era architecture characteristic of many San Francisco homes build in the 19th century: ornate trim and wainscoting, a built-in bookshelf, bay windows, and elaborate light fixtures. My landlord, Mrs. Lopez, bought this house in 1973 and moved with her family from the country of Columbia to California. At that time the Mission District was known almost exclusively as a Latino/a neighborhood with thriving local businesses and cultural establishments. For fifteen years, Mrs. Lopez raised her two sons in the flat on the top floor of this house. Today she resides in the converted garage apartment, and one of her sons has relocated to the downstairs flat. Upstairs, in the flat where the Lopez family first settled, I live among a rotating ensemble of friends and housemates; members of a makeshift family who seek shelter here. This house, much like the neighborhood, is constructed of layered histories—the majority of which remain invisible to me. There are parts of this history that I cannot access, that are made visible only through the act of imagining who came before and where and how they used the space that now surrounds me.
The longer you live somewhere, the more knowledge you gain about the stories that have accumulated there. I was born in San Francisco and raised north of the Golden Gate Bridge. I left the Bay Area briefly only to be drawn back by the pull of a place that is home. In a way, I inherited this city from my parents. My mother and father are East Coast transplants who followed the now legendary exodus of their generation to the 1960s promised land: San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury. Their histories are intricately tied to this place. I know the exact location in Golden Gate Park where they celebrated their marriage and can identify which front door in a row of Victorians leads to the first home they shared together on Castro Street. Although they left the city years ago, it is because of their migration that I am here; my presence adds yet one more story to our family’s attachment to San Francisco. Through this history I have inherited not only the city, but the social and political responsibility that come with living in one place for an extended period of time.
In today’s political climate of economic recession, home becomes a story about wealth and property rather than people. Last June, California residents faced threats to rent control through a proposed amendment to the California State Constitution, inconspicuously folded into a proposition called the “California Property Owner and Farmland Protection Act” (Proposition 98). While this proposition was ultimately defeated, it exposed the vulnerability of renters and sent a clear message about whose properties are considered valuable, and therefore, protected. In a gesture similar to Proposition 98, San Francisco’s Mayor Gavin Newsom recently vetoed the “Renters Economic Relief Package,” a bill created to provide flexibility for renters facing unemployment and struggling to survive in the second most expensive housing market in the country.
Here are a few installation shots from Home is something I carry with me. The openings, film screening and various events were wonderful. Many people came to view the houses turned galleries. Thank you to everyone involved: artists, collaborators, funders, my parents and visitors! For more check out the Home is something I carry with me on Flickr.
Another interview about Home is something I carry with me. Mission Local journalist, Alissa Figueroa and I toured through both home galleries and talked about the exhibition, as well as housing politics in New Orleans and San Francisco. Figueroa also interviewed several participating artists who are also Mission District residents about their work and ideas about home.
You can read the full article on the Mission Local blog. Thanks Alissa!
Bay Area arts writer, Danielle Sommer interviewed me about the exhibition Home is something I carry with me for KQED’s Art Spark. We talked about my background and the influences that led me to create this project, as well as details about the exhibition and artists. Read the full interview on the Art Spark website. Thanks, Danielle.
Home is something I carry with me is an alternative art exhibition and film screening featuring over forty local Bay Area artists whose work interrogates the concept of home. For one weekend, two homes in San Francisco’s Mission District will transform into exhibition spaces and the backyard of a third home will be used for an outdoor film screening. Home is something I carry with me emerged from the current climate of foreclosures, rapid development, and threats of rent control repeals. By reinventing three homes as art venues and opening them to the public, Home is something I carry with me exercises the rights of renters to use private residences for what we deem public good; an action that can be considered a resistance to the current housing crisis and the lack of economic sustainability for artists. The work within this exhibition expands the notion of home by considering shifting relationship to place and identities formed through diasporic and migrant movement. Individual rooms within the homes will act as galleries organizing the work around themes of shelter, migrations, domestic space and memory, mapping, borders, neighborhoods and identities.
Press and artist preview
Thursday, September 3, 7 – 9 p.m. @ 3352 24th Street and 951 Shotwell Street
Friday, September 4th, 4 – 8 p.m. @ 3352 24th Street and 951 Shotwell Street
Friday, September 4th, 4 – 8 p.m. @ 348 Shotwell Street
Saturday, September 5th, 12 – 5 p.m. @ 3352 24th Street and 951 Shotwell Street
Reading and Performances
Sunday, September 6th 7 – 9 p.m. @ 951 Shotwell Street
Participating artists: Mara Baldwin, Taha Belal, Jesse Brown, Michael Campbell, Julie Cloutier, Pablo Cristi, Cindy DeLosa, Amy Wilson Faville, Jonathan Fischer, Molly Goldberg, Pablo Guardiola, Alvaro Guillen, Jason Hanasik, Amber Hasselbring, Malak Helmy, Amanda Herman, Nanci Ikejimba, Josef Jacques, Amy Keefer, Claire Kessler-Bradner, Lynn Marie Kirby & Lisa Robertson, Milena Korolczuk, Laurel Lee, Lauren Mardsen, Lynne McCabe, Klea McKenna, Ranu Mukherjee, Jeff Norman, Alexis Petty, Simon Pyle, Hilary Schwartz, Renetta Sitoy, Lewis Watts, Mira M. White, Anna Whitehead, Megan Wilson and Carmen Winant
Participating filmmakers: Terry Berlier, Michael Goodier, Amanda Herman & The Morris Family, Lynn Marie Kirby, Katherin McInnis, Gloria Moran, Kari Orvik with Veronica Majano & the Mission Neighborhood Resource Center
Curated by Adrienne Skye Roberts and funded by Southern Exposure’s Alternative Exposure Grant program
Postcard design by Alexis Petty