Jerry Alonzo Works in Wood

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The Art of Compassion

Compassion ... What is it?

Seen any examples lately? These are the questions I asked the community through schools, county agencies, church groups, neighbors, and friends. I asked them to respond in 25 words or less. Their words would become the heart and soul of an installation sculpture.

The idea for the project originated after I attended a series of lectures at Chautauqua Institution. People from different faith traditions spoke about compassion and the creation of the Charter for Compassion (

Compassion is ...
Six of the 300+ contributions to "Compassion Is ..."

Their message was simple yet powerful. The Golden Rule is central to all religions. While the words may differ, all acknowledge that loving one's neighbor is central to their faith. Why do we hate and fight wars over our differences rather than celebrating our common belief in the Golden Rule?

I embarked on this project with the hope of sparking a community discussion on compassion. My plan was to gather from my community its thoughts on compassion and then as an artists to visually convey those thoughts.

Initially, it seemed like an eternity to me, words were hard to come by. In my naïveté I believed that my request for word contributions was a simple request. It was not, as you see when you wander through the words. The first words arrived from Groveland, followed by a long dry spell. I was hoping for 200, but could get by with 100. Well, the words trickled in at first, and then with the help of Lori McEvoy of the Coalition of Churches the volume increased. It became a daily delight to open my mail. 318 contributions comprise"The Art of Compassion." The words appear as submitted to remain in the voice of the contributor. Some local historical figures are represented from historical documents.

When you read the words you will see that our community believes that listening to each other and putting ourselves in the place of the other are the principal ingredients of compassion.

Have a seat on the bench, listen to the words of your neighbors, and if you are willing, jot down your thoughts on compassion t share with others.

Jerry Alonzo


Thanks for all those who helped make this project possible:
The Big Springs Museum, Lori McEvoy and The Livingston County Coalition of Churches, Bill Neal Awards & Engraving, Amie Alden-County Historian, the students of St. Agnes School, Cosgrove Middle School-Spencerport and SUNY Geneseo, the Decentralization Program of the NYS Council on the Arts as administered by the Genesee Valley Council on the Arts and of course the 300+ authors whose words of compassion you will be reading.


Democrat & Chronicle articles - click to read:


The Art of Compassion at Spencerport School
The Art of Compassion at the Spencerport School

The Art of Compassion at Sweet Briar in Geneseo, New York
The Art of Compassion at Sweet Briar in Geneseo, NY

Art of Compassion at Chautauque Institution
The Art of Compassion at Chautauqua Institution