Local Artists Sirron Norris Uses Construction Fence as a Canvas for Powerful Bayview-Hunter’s Point History Mural

The San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) unveiled the first of four large-scale temporary murals in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood. The 300-foot artwork by Bay Area visual artist Sirron Norris spans across the Southeast Treatment Plant Headworks Facilities Project’s construction fence on Evans Avenue between Rankin and Phelps Streets for one year as part of a temporary art program launching this summer. This art installation is an early reflection of the SFPUC’s vision to provide a facility that works better, smells better and looks better for the SFPUC and the surrounding community.

Norris’s artwork, commissioned through SFAC’s Public Art Program, features a vibrant art concept depicting the powerful and intricate history of Bayview-Hunters Point translated onto mesh vinyl banners. Norris worked directly with youth and seniors in the community to create the concept through a series of interactive artist workshops where he educated attendees on basic cartooning methods while asking their feedback for the mural.

“In researching this land, this history, a pattern developed. Everything that smelled was put over here and they ended up putting the sewer system here too in modern day.” Norris expressed, “I wanted to illustrate that pattern and do it in a way that is palatable. That is why I used cartoon illustration. I think specifically for this mural covering the sewer system and its history with the Bayview, it’s important we are doing restorative justice in a lot of ways through this mural.”

The SFPUC is committed to changing the narrative of the past and is investing billions in its facilities and the surrounding neighborhood to create a new history. Adorning the Southeast Treatment Plant with a mural that is honest about the area’s history underscores the agency’s commitment to change. The SFPUC is the first public utility in the nation to develop an Environmental Justice Policy to guide the effort to support the communities where we operate through access to green spaces, education, workforce development and public art. 

Three more artists will display their artworks in succeeding years. The second artist, Malik Seneferu, has been selected to exhibit artwork next year. 

 “The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is excited to work with local artists Sirron Norris and Malik Seneferu—two talented artists who are committed to creating works of art which speak to the values, creativity, and history of the Bayview-Hunters Point community,” said SFPUC General Manager Harlan L. Kelly, Jr. “This creative project is one more example of our community benefits approach toward capital improvements.”

Another way the SFPUC supports the Bayview-Hunters Point community is by engaging with local businesses and expanding job training opportunities. The SFAC’s Public Art Program and SFPUC partnered with Young Community Developers, Incorporated, a non-profit that empowers Bayview-Hunters Point residents by providing them with education opportunities, workforce development training, and social services, to establish a paid annual summer internship program for Bayview High School students. Launched this summer, the first internship with ARC Document Solutions provided work experience in artwork fabrication with an emphasis on the production of the murals. 

The murals hang on the construction fence of the Headworks Facilities Project, one of the two largest projects underway at the Southeast Treatment Plant. Headworks is where wastewater flows enter the treatment plant and debris is removed. This project will minimize odors, reduce operational costs, and increase efficiency as part of the agency’s Sewer System Improvement Program (SSIP), an over $2 billion investment to upgrade and modernize the Southeast Treatment Plant, San Francisco’s largest wastewater treatment.

Learn more about construction at the Southeast Treatment Plant at sfwater.org/SEPConstruction  

Learn more about the SFPUC’s public art efforts at sfwater.org/arts