On September 21st CAMP hosted a Vigil & Celebration of Community on Clarion Alley. The event was a beautiful reflection of how our diverse communities can come together to support one another and honor a space and project that serves as a public commons, a community, and a tapestry of narratives told through the mural works of artists and organizations, representing many who have been marginalized, disenfranchised and often silenced.
The event began with a ceremonial blessing by Xitalli Aztec dancers.
Following the blessing, we heard from Sharif Zakout of the Arab Resource Organizing Center (AROC) with Khalid from Arab Youth Organizing, trans-activist Shane Zaldiver, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Robert from HOMEY, Mike Reger from the DOPE Project, and Christopher Statton, co-director of CAMP.
The Vigil and Celebration concluded with CAMP Co-Directors Christopher Statton and Megan Wilson being presented with Certificate of Honor from Supervisor Hillary Ronen’s office by legislative aide Amy Beinart.
photographs by Mehregan Pezeshki
One of the primary forces for calling the Vigil was a spate of 15 attacks of hate crime vandalism October, 2018 – August, 2019 against CAMP’s five murals in support of Palestine: 1) The Will To Live, 2) Bangkit Palestina, 3) End Apartheid BDS; 4) Ahed Tamimi; and Justice, targeting all five murals. This act of violence and Islamophobia against our Palestinian community was alarming and rather than backing down in fear, our community rallied together and continued to repair all of the murals after the attacks, allowing CAMP to also engage with visitors to the alley and discuss the murals, the lack of attention to these attacks, and their targeting. The support from the visitors we have engaged with has been overwhelmingly supportive.
However, following the initial eight attacks in fall 2018 CAMP took the additional step to hire Eva Mas Silberstein, who had worked with the Mission Neighborhood Resource Center to help support our community engagement work.
In addition to the initial work to call attention to these hate crimes, our community engagement work with Eva over the past year has included initiating the processes to begin developing relationships with:
- The Office of Civic Engagement & Immigrant Affairs’ (OCEIA) Community Ambassador Program to expand the services that they already provide on Clarion Alley;
- HOMEY, a grassroots, non-profit organization that works directly with youth and young adults in schools, on the street and in jails to deliver our brand of workshops, services and empowerment activities to our community; and
- The effort to expand the Mission Cultural District to the North Mission, including CAMP, and continuing to build our relationship with District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen’s Office as part of that process.
Eva also facilitated the painting of the new signage at the entrance of Clarion Alley on Valencia Street.
Thank you Eva for your work over the past year – we wish you the best in your future endeavors!
CAMP’s WORK TO ENGAGE COMMUNITIES AND SUPPORT SOCIAL CHANGE THROUGHOUT OUR HISTORY
Long before the term “Social Practice Art” existed, Clarion Alley Mural Project was rooted in social practice through art. The origins of CAMP grew directly out of working with the communities on and surrounding Clarion Alley. At every phase of its development, residents and elders in the community were included in the process to establish CAMP – a process that we describe as bringing the two-dimensional into the three dimensional space. CAMP has always had a three-dimensional approach that has combined public engagement through art with direct support and service for our residents and communities to address the challenges that we have faced over the past three decades.
In its early days CAMP worked with community and cultural activist Juanita Rieloff to help support her efforts to create a childcare center at the corner of Mission and Clarion, as well as her compassion and generosity to open up the doors during the winter of 1998 to those experiencing homelessness. In turn, Juanita was always a staunch supporter and ally of Clarion Alley.
A very recent example of CAMP’s neighborhood resident support is our initiation to facilitate the connection of one of our long-term alley residents and strong CAMP supporter (27 years) with the SF Community Land Trust and MEDA to engage in purchasing the 5-unit property that is currently up for sale and would likely result in the eviction of all of the tenants living on the property.
CAMP was instrumental in working with community members in South Detroit to use CAMP’s model to help develop their Art in the Alley project. CAMP was invited to travel to Detroit and spend two days with community members sharing best practices and lessons learned.
CAMP has also been active in working with our community partners in providing a space for actions and press conferences that accompany the murals they and/or other CAMP artists have created in support of their work for social, economic, environmental, and political justice; these have included: SOMCAN (South of Market Community Action Network), Hospitality House, the Coalition On Homelessness, WRAP (Western Regional Advocacy Project), AROC (Arab Resource Organizing Center) and Art Forces, Justice 4 Luis Gongora Pat, and United 4 Iran.
Finally, CAMP has worked internationally through two exchange projects and residencies with Yogyakarta Indonesia. The most recent in 2018/19 CAMP artists have been working with the village of Panggungharjo on the outskirts of Yogyakarta, and the artists from Yogyakarta worked with our community partners AROC, SOMCAN, the Coalition On Homelessness, the Asian Art Museum, and the Poster Syndicate.
Clarion Alley Mural Project (CAMP) will continue to be a three-dimensional space through which public art and community engagement and service is used as a force for those who are marginalized and a place where culture and dignity speak louder than the rules of private property or a lifestyle that puts profit before compassion, respect, and social justice.