Sat September 26 - Wed September 30, 2020

Home Street Home, Sleeping Bag Art Installations Pop-Up Citywide

A decade ago, artist Brian Singer worked in an office near 2nd and Folsom, right by the freeway overpass, long before all the new construction. Every day on his way to the office he would walk under the freeway, right past a man with a blue blanket. He was an older man, living on the street with a shopping cart, some books, smoking cigarettes, and listening to a small radio. He was there every day for a year and a half. Until the day he wasn't.

Weeks later, Singer launched the first installation of his Home Street Home project. Working with found pieces of cardboard upon which he hand-stitched the words "Home Street Home", Singer placed each work in a frame as one would needle-point work, and hung them throughout the city in public spaces to draw awareness to the places in which our unhoused neighbors lived.

Singer doesn't pretend that his Home Street Home project is directly helping the unhoused population in the city. He admits, "I don't know how to solve the problem." However, he believes that building awareness and empathy is the first step towards action. "My goal," Singer states, "is to make people just like me, take a second glance and remind them of a population in need. I believe empathy is the first step towards action."

The second iteration of Home Street Home occurred when the Super Bowl was hosted in the Bay Area. The tent encampments along Division Street were swept away. But, the homeless were still in the vicinity, just living one block over. Singer questions, "out of sight, out of mind?" Utilizing the chain-link fences that lined Division Street, Singer installed Home Street Home, this time in giant X shaped letters, reminiscent of cross-stitching. Shortly thereafter, he installed another version at 16th and Folsom.

Today, with the global pandemic, masses unemployed, and businesses shutting down all over the city, life is unusually challenging for everyone, most especially those that are unhoused. Just last week, in response to these challenges, San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed announced a plan to create a Street Crisis Response Team pilot program, part of the first phase of implementation of Mental Health SF, the City's strategic framework for improving the behavioral health response to people experiencing homelessness.

Singer's latest incarnation of his Home Street Home project is also a response, in this instance to the barricades erected citywide in discouragement of tents and encampments. For Singer, the barricades represent a reaction to the crisis our unhoused communities are experiencing, not a solution, but rather an attempt at covering it up, or camouflaging.

Singer's most recent citywide Home Street Home installations use the barricades to drape newly purchased camouflage sleeping bags, upon which he has painted the words "Home Street Home" in his signature cross-stitching motif. Singer's art is also a prompt. Singer knows that these ephemeral art installations will be taken down quickly. However, with a safety pinned written note on the installations he encourages someone who is living on the street and needs a sleeping bag to take them down from the barricades, rather than the city. "The message exists for a moment, and then, ideally, becomes something useful for those in need," Singer comments. With Home Street Home and other ephemeral art projects, Singer's hope is that increased awareness and empathy leads to action.


Image Credit: Brian Singer, Home Street Home; Sleeping Bag installation, San Francisco; 2020.
A decade ago, artist Brian Singer worked in an office near 2nd and Folsom, right by the freeway overpass, long before all the new construction. Every day on his way to the office he would walk under the freeway, right past a man with a blue blanket. He was an older man, living on the street with a shopping cart, some books, smoking cigarettes, and listening to a small radio. He was there every day for a year and a half. Until the day he wasn't.

Weeks later, Singer launched the first installation of his Home Street Home project. Working with found pieces of cardboard upon which he hand-stitched the words "Home Street Home", Singer placed each work in a frame as one would needle-point work, and hung them throughout the city in public spaces to draw awareness to the places in which our unhoused neighbors lived.

Singer doesn't pretend that his Home Street Home project is directly helping the unhoused population in the city. He admits, "I don't know how to solve the problem." However, he believes that building awareness and empathy is the first step towards action. "My goal," Singer states, "is to make people just like me, take a second glance and remind them of a population in need. I believe empathy is the first step towards action."

The second iteration of Home Street Home occurred when the Super Bowl was hosted in the Bay Area. The tent encampments along Division Street were swept away. But, the homeless were still in the vicinity, just living one block over. Singer questions, "out of sight, out of mind?" Utilizing the chain-link fences that lined Division Street, Singer installed Home Street Home, this time in giant X shaped letters, reminiscent of cross-stitching. Shortly thereafter, he installed another version at 16th and Folsom.

Today, with the global pandemic, masses unemployed, and businesses shutting down all over the city, life is unusually challenging for everyone, most especially those that are unhoused. Just last week, in response to these challenges, San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed announced a plan to create a Street Crisis Response Team pilot program, part of the first phase of implementation of Mental Health SF, the City's strategic framework for improving the behavioral health response to people experiencing homelessness.

Singer's latest incarnation of his Home Street Home project is also a response, in this instance to the barricades erected citywide in discouragement of tents and encampments. For Singer, the barricades represent a reaction to the crisis our unhoused communities are experiencing, not a solution, but rather an attempt at covering it up, or camouflaging.

Singer's most recent citywide Home Street Home installations use the barricades to drape newly purchased camouflage sleeping bags, upon which he has painted the words "Home Street Home" in his signature cross-stitching motif. Singer's art is also a prompt. Singer knows that these ephemeral art installations will be taken down quickly. However, with a safety pinned written note on the installations he encourages someone who is living on the street and needs a sleeping bag to take them down from the barricades, rather than the city. "The message exists for a moment, and then, ideally, becomes something useful for those in need," Singer comments. With Home Street Home and other ephemeral art projects, Singer's hope is that increased awareness and empathy leads to action.


Image Credit: Brian Singer, Home Street Home; Sleeping Bag installation, San Francisco; 2020.
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  • Sat Sep 26 (24/7)
  • Sun Sep 27 (24/7)
  • Mon Sep 28 (24/7)
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