Handsignals is a permanent public artwork that marks the entrance to McCoppin Hub, a public plaza in a small leftover space on Valencia Street near Market in San Francisco.
Made of familiar pedestrian traffic signals and lettered brightly to mark McCoppin Hub as a new public space, Handsignals refers to the formal qualities of the numerous theater signs prevalent in the Mission District, and repurposes that vocabulary to “advertise” a new public space.
The north-facing side of the piece spells “McCoppin” in bright yellow cast aluminum lettering. On the south-facing side, Handsignals repositions the meaning of the common pedestrian traffic signal by replacing the familiar “red hand” and “walking figure” with custom symbols designed to represent themes deeply imbedded in Mission District culture. The piece playfully explores the relationship between a community and its emblems, identity and its abstractions, the sign and its signifier. Lit both during the day and at night, the modules blink on and off in a slow, irregular pattern, creating new combinations of symbols whose meaning and relationship to the neighborhood will change as the neighborhood continues to evolve.