An interconnected landscape of community members past, present and future come together to form linkages of life in the artwork Gifts of Freedom and Knowledge. Artist George Evans’ layered metal, multi-panel, photo montage celebrates South Los Angeles’ distinct personalities, landscapes, and cultural traditions with imagery that is deeply rooted in shared histories and personal ties. A mythical continuous stream winds through Magic Johnson Park alongside the local icons and characters who serve as hallmarks of a place in which the artist finds “home.”
The foreground features Alice “Sweet Alice” Harris (founder, Parents of Watts), Rev. Dr. Sonja R. Dawson (pastor and women’s advocate, New Mt. Calvary Baptist Church) and Reginald Johnson (founder, Willowbrook Inclusion Network). These deeply engaged community members are representative of the many neighborhood guardians whose combined dedication underscores decades of advocacy in the surrounding neighborhoods across generations, particularly for children and young adults.
These cyclical gifts of knowledge have flowed and adapted rhythmically to changing neighborhood demographics and needs. For Evans, this remains the solid and generous community nurtured his talents and allowed him to become what he is today — artist, teacher, mentor.
“My role is that of a Shaman who reflects and expresses the life of the village.”
About the Artist
GEORGE EVANS (b. Los Angeles, CA) was born in Watts and grew up on 89th Street in an artistic family that nurtured a love of art, books, music and nature. His brother is a jazz musician and one of his sisters, Wanda Coleman, was a renowned LA poet. George Evans’s mother wanted him to be a musician, but his heart was always set on visual art. Evans developed his craft from drawing, painting, printmaking and photography. Evans trained early in his father sign shop, Carter’s Printing, and Valentine Photography Studio and completed his Bachelor of Fine Art at the California Institute of the Arts at Chouinard. According to Evans, there were two important opportunities that informed his career: art classes in Watts after the rebellion in 1965 and a gift of LACMA membership from his mother. Evans has served nearly 2 decades as a professor of Graphic Design at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College.
Locations: Willowbrook/Rosa Parks