This article was published on September 25, 2014 in Mission Local. It is an explanation of my soon to be installed altar installation, We are San Francisco at SOMArts Dia de los Muertos exhibit Visions at Twilight. Please click on highlighted links for more info on Visions at Twilight.___________________________________________________________
Martha Rodriguez, a Mission District artist, and others are busy working on Day of the Dead exhibits for the annual installation at SOMAArts. Rodriguez sent us some photos of her work in progress and her thoughts behind the giant snake. The exhibit opens on October 11 and runs through November 8th. You can also follow her blog here.
I’m one of forty artists participating in SOMArts San Francisco, Day of the Dead exhibit titled‘Visions at Twilight.” The focus of this year’s event revolves around the theme of gentrification of San Francisco and the loss of culture and people being felt in the Bay Area now.
This has been a difficult challenge for me as emotions run high on this theme and changes in the City come rapidly. I have looked for a sliver of hope throughout these changes although hope has been difficult to find during this upheaval. Still after thinking through this dilemma, I decided that change may happen, but for those who carry on the values of living in a diverse community, those values will stay within us.
I decided to call my altar installation We Are San Francisco / Somos San Francisco. The main image within the installation will be a serpent, shedding its skin. The serpent represents the community of San Francisco who value the ideals of progressive politics and diversity. The shedding of skin represents a need to reexamine who we are, to renew, reaffirm our identity as longtime San Franciscans. Along with the serpent shedding its skin, I will have the following poem displayed within the altar. It further explains the purpose ofWe Are San Francisco / Somos San Francisco.
Finally, the installation will be interactive. There will be slips of paper available for visitors viewing the installation where they can leave a note in answer to the question: What is San Francisco to You? In addition, for children coming through on school tours, they will be asked to do a self-portrait and to hang it from the colorful ribbons hanging from the top of the altar.
In the end, I hope to convey from We Are San Francisco / Somos San Francisco, that our City, despite the changes, is still defined by its diversity in people, politics, histories, generations. For those of us who truly value our diverse community, whether remaining or forced to leave, our soul remains within our City. Our unity has been challenged by change but our belief system remains