Ambitious project pairs artists with unhoused, attempting to answer ‘What’s Home?’


In a series of films and live performances coming to The 418 Project and the Radius Gallery at the Tannery Arts Center, Andrew Purchin tracks the interaction between those with secure housing and those without and the expressions of art that emerged.

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There are few words that carry more emotional and metaphysical weight than “home.” It’s a concept that is, of course, central to the ongoing housing crisis in California, and it’s the key to understanding an ambitious new art project based in Santa Cruz.

Andrew Purchin has put together a big undertaking called “What’s Home? Creative Listening Across Differences.” It’s a series of films and live performances that are meant to throw new life on the housing crisis, at least how we all experience it in Santa Cruz County. At its core, “What’s Home?” started with a dozen artists and paired each of them with someone who has secure housing, and someone who does not. From those conversations, the artists were encouraged to create a performance or visual art piece to reflect the compassion and the empathy (or lack thereof) surrounding the issue, and to explore what the concept of home means for people who are labeled “homeless.”

Among the artists and activists participating are rapper/singer Alwa Gordon, writer Ed Weingold, artist and 2022 mayoral candidate Joy Schendledecker, musician Michael Levy, painter Carmen Leon and many more.

You can experience the many creative works that have arisen from “What’s Home?” on Saturday, April 15, at The 418 Project, as well as an ongoing exhibit at the Radius Gallery at The Tannery, through May 7.

I’m eager to see the depth and dimension of these big psychic questions regarding home — both in the community and in the universe — and how they might bring new light and insight to the frustrating and intractable issue of affordable housing. Let’s all work to keep that conversation going.

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