This Friday is the Opening Reception for SOMArts Day of the Dead 2019: City of Souls. You can find out more about the event and buy tickets here: https://www.somarts.org/events/cityofsoulsopening/
I have created an altar installation titled "Tent City of Souls" in honor of Perry Foster, one of the nearly 400 people who have died on the streets of San Francisco since 2016.
When I learned how many homeless people die each year, I wanted to learn more about their stories. I searched for facts about their lives, but discovered that there is barely any information available. Homeless people often remain anonymous, invisible. I came across an article by KQED journalist Dan Brekke about Perry Foster, a man who had died of a drug overdose in 2018. Perry, also known as Parree, was a charismatic individual, full of potential. He was considered a football prodigy in High School and was granted a scholarship for the University of Michigan. He was planning on studying psychology and criminal law. Several factors led Perry away from sports and academics and eventually onto the streets of San Francisco.
I reached out to Dan and he gave me further information. I learned that Perry wanted to write a column about his experiences on the streets of San Francisco and was looking for an editor. He had posted some articles and comments about his struggles and successes publicly on social media. He wanted to be heard and make a difference. He had an original voice: uncompromising and strong. He was observant, reflective and often humorous.
I have included a space in the altar where visitors can hear the KQED piece about Perry, and can read printouts of Perry's public blog and Facebook entries. I have also included a portrait of Perry Foster. Traditional paintings are often reserved for the wealthy or famous, but every person has a story. I hope I was able to capture a likeness and convey my admiration for this beautiful, complex human being.
Please come inside and take some time to get to know Perry Foster, gone too soon.