“How Can You Stop Violence?” was the question posed by a mourning client named Bruce on one of the powerful 96 panels of the mosaic mural “Putting the Pieces Together” at the Powell Street BART/MUNI entrance, created by over 300 youth from Larkin Street Youth Services between 1992 and 1995.

The panel was done in remembrance of a lost brother to a drive-by shooting, when the artist’s older brother was killed in a random act of street violence. The panel was a way to heal in the process of creating an artistic remembrance for his brother, it was like a mosaic retablo.  A chance to posit the question that was bothering him, not knowing the killer of his brother.  Senseless acts with lasting consequences. It was a question that would be seen by thousands of BART/MUNI riders every day.  A question that Bruce asks everyday of himself, as so many do, living with the pain from the untimely death of a loved one by a bullet.   A particular work that resonates now as it did then, twenty years ago.

It so happened, that the date of the deceased brother’s  death, engraved on one of the tiles of the mural composition, was the very day of the reception-unveiling of the mural:  November 2nd. At the opening reception, both the client and myself were moved by this coincidence and unintended validation.  Bruce’s courage to weather the emotional journey of addressing the issue of his brother’s murder in an artwork became a powerfully transformative experience for those of us present. As surely for the thousands who have seen the panel and understood the force of its message.

  • by Peter Carpou, founder of the Larkin Street Arts Program & former Liaison for Arts and Cultural Development