by Peter Carpou, Liaison for Arts and Cultural Development
“Putting the Pieces Together” celebrates its 20th Anniversary! This remarkable, colorful 96 panel mosaic mural at the Powell Street BART/MUNI entrance was created by over 300 youth from Larkin Street Youth Services between 1992 and 1995, and is recognized as one of the top nine murals in the city.
The panel “Girl Looking through Ruins” became the face, literally, of “Putting the Pieces Together.” This popular panel was created by Brian, a charismatic and empathic young man who inspired a light heart in tough times, tinged with a sense of gravitas for the challenges ahead. His interpretation of the panel was as of a child looking ahead into the future – a positive outlook from a positive-thinking client of Larkin Street Youth Services – a representation of a street youth, looking through a broken wall to the other side, the side of the viewer. She’s a survivor who walks in two worlds: the broken one that we see but don’t know, and the one that she knows but wishes to change where she is in it.
Each of the 2’x4’ mosaic panels in “Putting the Pieces Together” is an
authentic and passionate reflection of San Francisco in the early 90’s and the issues that faced homeless and at-risk youth then – issues that continue to impact this vulnerable population and the city at large. The mosaics emerged from the hard work and dedication of the young people under the leadership of Peter Carpou, Larkin Street’s former* Art Program Director & Liaison for Arts and Cultural Development. All of the materials were donated and collected from various suppliers and picked up each week in front of their shops or given for free, upon request.
Larkin Street’s Arts Program continues to be integral to supporting homeless young people as they transition into independent adults – to help them achieve the outcomes set forth by the Growth Campaign (see page 2).
The Arts Program offers drop-in workshops and groups as well as introducing new, “career track” intensive curriculums in areas including Music Production, Fine Arts/Design, and Computer Arts/Media Design. Young people who enroll in and complete these 12 – 14 week curriculum’s will take explicit steps toward pursuing a career in these fields – to be able to go on to internships with sustainable career pathways or enroll in supporting college-level courses in these same fields.
*As of November 1st Peter Carpou has retired. Larkin Street extends deep gratitude for Peter’s 26 years in service of homeless and runaway youth.