Transitions, the new homeless service center located on Main Street, has already received a facelift, thanks to the help of local artist Khaldoune Bencheikh. The center, which opened in June, is now home to a mosaic mural titled, “Reliquarium Garden.” But this mural is no ordinary piece of artwork; made from donated ceramic, tiles and stained glass, it was assembled with the help of homeless members of the community. Training these men and women in tile-laying not only enabled them to help Khaldoune with his piece, but also provided them with a marketable skill.
Khaldoune’s vision is that the project will be a site that commemorates the efforts of an entire community in advocating for social justice through art. He describes the mural as both an instrument to bridge the gap between the two separate worlds of homelessness and residence and as a recording tool to permanently engrave the collective memory of the city in cured cement.
Khaldoune says, “I think you can measure a city or a culture by two things: by their art and culture, and also by their sense of compassion.”
On Nov. 14, the first section of “Reliquarium Garden” was unveiled for the public at the Columbia Museum of Art. When completed, the final product will cover the wall of the Transitions building that faces Main Street.
Khaldoune, a Master of Fine Arts candidate at USC, is a mixed media artist with an interest in community based art projects. To see how you can participate in this project as a sponsor, partner or volunteer visit www.khaldoune.com.