Gentrification: An Installation for Awareness and Call to Action

Derek Macario

Brochures from the exhibition, Gentrification, with information on the project.  (Photo by Derek Macario/Xpress Magazine)
Brochures from the exhibition, Gentrification, with information on the project. (Photo by Derek Macario/Xpress Magazine)

Being a native San Francisco working class student myself, gentrification has been an ongoing condition for life in the city. From elementary and middle school in the Excelsior, high school in the Sunset, working in the Tenderloin and Western Addition, and living with my parents in the Bayview, I have seen all kinds of changes in the city for the past 20 years.

However, even with my own experiences, there are many histories held from those of previous generations living in San Francisco. And there are many individuals and organizations that dedicate themselves to protect and preserve that history.

Eviction in San Francisco are displayed at The Art Gallery. (Photo by Derek Macario/Xpress Magazine)
Eviction in San Francisco are displayed at The Art Gallery. (Photo by Derek Macario/Xpress Magazine)

The Human Rights Commission’s Equity Advisory Committee and The Art Gallery have worked together to exhibit the complex issues on housing in San Francisco. The exhibit is located at SF State’s Ceaser Chavez Student Center, and today is the last day to see the exhibit, which is open until 6pm.

The exhibition presents the definition of gentrification as, “a general term for the arrival of wealthier people in an existing urban district, a related increase in rents and property value, and changes in the district’s character and culture.”

Portraits of San Francisco residents and their thoughts on gentrification. (Photo by Derek Macario/Xpress Magazine)
Portraits of San Francisco residents and their thoughts on gentrification. (Photo by Derek Macario/Xpress Magazine)

With ceiling-high portraits of people from San Francisco, their pictures are presented with personal perspectives of what living in San Francisco means today, and the exhaustive housing conditions they continually face. Between evictions, sky-high rent, unfair housing situations, and displacement, San Francisco has been facing a housing crisis, which has drastically affected the low-to-middle-income residents that have been living in the city for decades.

Portrait of a San Francisco resident and her thoughts on housing situations. (Photo by Derek Macario/Xpress Magazine)
Portrait of a San Francisco resident and her thoughts on housing situations. (Photo by Derek Macario/Xpress Magazine)

This exhibition gives space for the voices of residents facing displacement, as well as provide them a platform to share their experiences of what they’ve seen happen to others.

Portrait of a San Francisco resident and her frustration with the housing situation. (Photo by Derek Macario/Xpress Magazine)
Portrait of a San Francisco resident and her frustration with the housing situation. (Photo by Derek Macario/Xpress Magazine)

During the reception event of the exhibition, Paul Day from the Equity Advisory Committee, said that part of the affordable housing issue is “humanizing the issue.”

See the video made by ASI of the reception, here.

After seeing the exhibit, I left thinking about how gentrification has affected  a much larger number of people and families than I previously figured. And seeing the stories of these people in the gallery, I now put the faces and personalities to the problem San Francisco residents are facing.