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SomArts Press Release  from October 2004

Families in Paradise… is the brainchild of community artist and painter, Heidi Hardin, who combines her own paintings with those of elementary school students and their art instructors, all participants in her nationally acclaimed Children’s Mural Program. The result is a multimedia installation that celebrates the Earth as home and all of humanity as family.

Hardin presents 78 oil paintings based on photographs from the past century of two Jewish and two Islamic families. These families stand as icons for all peoples who have journeyed to America to make their home. Hardin’s paintings are presented freestanding in a multi-sensory installation that includes touching objects, original music and whispered texts in a labyrinth of footpaths and columns replicating the mythic Tree of Life. The music and sound environment is created by Los Angeles composer, Jonathan Sacks, a long-time collaborator with Hardin. Both are fellow graduates of Masters programs in art and music from UC San Diego. Sacks’ orchestrations are part of Hollywood blockbusters like Bugs Life, Monsters, Inc., Toy Stories, and Seabiscuit. Hardin’s paintings been exhibited in museums and galleries since the early 1980s. The artist is represented by Newspace, LA.

On the walls surrounding Hardin’s families will be paintings by twenty notable Bayview and Hunters Point Shipyard artists such as Joe.Sam. These artists have taught in Hardin’s Children’s Mural Program (CMP) over the past 12 years. The CMP uses painting to teach a sophisticated environmental science curriculum about the Earth—its precious air, water and soil, its plants, animals and people.  The setting for Hardin’s Families in Paradise… is provided by scores of paintings created by the children in the 2003 CMP and are included with their teacher’s art in a rainbow display that will surround the main gallery at SomArts.  Also included will be the symbolic paintings of newcomer Marcia O’Hara with texts by Ingrid Coffin, both focusing on the hero’s journey--the earth walk we share as human beings. 

Families in Paradise… is the second of seven installations in Hardin’s larger vision called, The Human Family Tree/A Walk Through Paradise… that features families in America who are followers of various major world religions.  When complete, this extended project will survey the assimilation of immigrants to the United States through public education, advertising, and the Brownie camera.

Families in Paradise… and The Children’s Mural Program were conceived by Hardin while serving as the In-Schools Visual Arts Programing Director for the Bayview Opera House, a non-profit community cultural center in Bayview Hunters Point. The presentation of Families in Paradise… is a collaboration of SomArts Cultural Center and The Bayview Opera House, both community cultural centers operated under the auspices of the SF Art Commission.