The Cantilever Project

Artist: Anne Hamersky

Photographer Anne Hamersky received the project’s second commission. After meetings with Walter and Elise Haas Fund’s program staff and executive director, she chose the theme of bridging-building relationships among people and organizations across differences in cultural background, neighborhood, age, and faith, which is an underlying purpose of many of the Fund’s grants. “Cantilever,” a structure often used in bridges, became the artwork’s title.

Each program officer and the Fund’s executive director recommended a few of their grantees to Ms. Hamersky as strongly representing the cantilever theme. From research and interviews, the photographer chose these grantees (the Haas Fund’s interest area is in parentheses): AnewAmerica Community Corporation (Economic Security); Jewish Family and Children’s Services of the East Bay/Refugee and Immigrant Program (Jewish Life); On the Move’s Reach Institute for School Leadership (Education); the San Francisco Community Music Center (Arts); and San Francisco Neighborhood Centers Together (Other Grantmaking Interests). Ms. Hamersky documented each nonprofit’s work in a way that illustrates how it excels at bringing people together across their differences. For some, she photographed on-site activities; for others, she covered off-site events or organized photo shoots.

The finished work comprises a display of photographs, selected from among many hundreds taken, and five short multimedia pieces. Rather than waiting for the exhibition period to end, Hamersky immediately made a gift to each of the five nonprofits organizations of a disc containing their photographs and their multimedia piece. The participating nonprofits have used these in newsletters, annual reports, conference displays, and PowerPoint presentations. Many of them also appear on the Walter and Elise Haas Fund’s Website.

Artist Biography

Photographer Anne Hamersky’s work has been exhibited at FAMU (Prague, Czechoslovakia), the George Soros Foundation (New York) and in numerous San Francisco Bay Area venues, including the Oakland Museum, Southern Exposure Gallery, Intersection for the Arts, Headlands Center for the Arts, Haines Gallery, Catharine Clark Gallery, Photo Metro Gallery, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. In 2002, her work was part of a traveling exhibit, “Beggars and Choosers: Motherhood Is Not a Class Privilege,” that opened at the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Alabama. In 2007, with support from the San Francisco Arts Commission, she created the “Sky in the Pie” project, four successive murals appearing on the corner of 25th and Mission streets that addressed urban-rural connections. Her portrait and documentary photography has appeared in numerous books, on album covers and Websites, and in publications including Time, LIFE, Vanity Fair, People, Mother Jones, and National Geographic Traveler. She currently is working on a book on the lore and lure of agriculture.

In 2002, Ms. Hamersky received a Creative Work Fund grant to collaborate with the Margie Cherry Complementary Breast Health Clinic and writer Laurie Wagner. Together they created a striking bus poster campaign drawing attention to the importance of breast health awareness and medical checkups among residents of San Francisco’s Bayview/Hunters Point, where women have one of California’s highest rates of morbidity and mortality from breast cancer.

To view examples from Anne Hamersky’s portfolio, visit


AnewAmerica Community Corporation helps first-generation immigrants establish and maintain robust, small, socially responsible businesses, increase their incomes, build savings, and achieve a better standard of living for their families. It requires clients to give back to their communities through volunteerism or participation in the political process.

Jewish Family and Children’s Services of the East Bay (JFCS), the largest provider of services to immigrants and refugees in the East Bay, connects the Jewish community with new immigrants. JFCS also trains its clients in disaster-preparedness so they can respond better to a natural disaster in the Bay Area.

On the Move’s Reach Institute for School Leadership is a teacher-designed credentialing and leadership program. It emphasizes job-embedded coaching in which coaches and peers observe new teachers in the classroom and train them using individualized learning plans.

The San Francisco Community Music Center is a leading source of affordable music lessons for people of all ages. Operating from two sites in San Francisco, it offers an extensive scholarship program, opportunities for students to play together in groups, and free concerts by student ensembles.

San Francisco Neighborhood Centers Together is an alliance of neighborhood centers whose mission is to improve the quality of life in their communities. These centers are multiservice, multigenerational organizations that meet the changing needs of San Francisco’s diverse neighborhoods.

Special thanks to the staff and the leaders of these extraordinary organizations: Sylvia Rosales Fike, AnewAmerica Community Corporation; Avi Rose, Jewish Family and Children’s Services of the East Bay; Leslie Medine, On the Move, and Page Tompkins, Reach Institute for School Leadership; Stephen R. Shapiro, San Francisco Community Music Center; and Denise McCarthy and Julie Moed, co-directors, San Francisco Neighborhood Centers Together.

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