Office of Public Art

  • Omolade and fellow classmate, Erica Hughes, at local artist, Njaimeh Njie’s studio tour.

     

    Community Focus in Art Engagement

    Museum Studies Intern at the Office of Public Art – Fall 2019

    I have always had an interest in how to connect people to art. After taking AP Art History in high school I wanted everyone to feel the things that art made me feel and I wondered how I could do that with different various barriers that make art inaccessible and daunting.

    In my first meeting with the Office of Public Art my supervisor, Rachel Klipa, encouraged me to explore what I wanted from this internship and how the Office of Public Art could assist in this. From there I brainstormed with Rachel on how my interests and the mission of the office overlapped. One of the goals of the office is, “to serve as a change agent to increase visibility, relevance, and support for the arts.” I realized how important collaboration is to the office’s work and how partnership fosters a variety of opportunities in the expansion and growth of the art and culture sector. I was drawn to the accessibility aspect of their work. Rachel and I began to imagine what it would look like to get black students in Pittsburgh more involved with art. Each meeting new ideas formed and our notebooks filled with possible ideas and collaborations that catered specifically to young black adults. We decided that it would be useful to collect data and I designed an exit survey to compile data on the impact of black art on black students that I eventually sent through email to students that attended local black art events.

    A student that attended a studio tour visit of local Pittsburgh artist, Njaimeh Njie, highlighted in her exit survey the impact black art has made not only in understanding black history and themes but also understanding and navigating her own personal identity and role as a black artist herself. The student reflected that Njie “spoke about wanting to talk to people living in the Hill district but making sure that process is filled with trust and a clarity of intentions. It sparked a question in my mind of what collaboration and solidarity looks like on a public art scale.”

    Through this internship I learned how community engagement and collaboration have effect one another. I was able to get first-hand experience in engaging with a specific community and learned how centering what they want and need is the biggest and most important part of community engagement. I was able to be a part of multiple conversations that pushed my thinking in how art connects people and how it also aids in self-discovery at the same time and overall why it is worth the continued effort to connect people to art.

    Categories: 
    • Academic Interns
    • Undergraduate Work
    • Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh
  • A little known artwork by Sol LeWitt in the underground T Station at Wood Street in Pittsburgh, PA

     

    Pittsburgh’s Sol LeWitt

    Museum Studies Intern at the Office of Public Art - Fall 2018

    One of the best and most valuable opportunities I had during my internship was the chance to interview Carol R. Brown, the former President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Carol R. Brown was a member of the committee that commissioned a piece by Sol LeWitt in the Wood Street T Station titled Thirteen Geometric Figures. Brown and I discussed the selection process of artists for public art commissions and spoke about several of the other pieces of artwork around Pittsburgh. I was particularly excited for this interview because of Brown’s former position in the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and her accomplishments for the arts in the city.

    Brown was responsible for raising fund for the project in the private sector. The Port Authority was responsible for the construction costs and the committee would secure the private funds necessary to match the Port Authority funds. Brown met with Jack Heinz, the head of the Heinz Endowment and the Heinz Corporation at the time. Heinz loved the arts and ended up talking to Brown for two hours and ultimately gave the committee the quarter of a million they needed.  During the installation process, LeWitt worked with the architects to ensure that the connection between his artwork and the light rail station was seamless.

    Interning for the Greater Pittsburgh Art Council has opened my eyes to the vast amount of artwork around downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland. My main responsibility this semester was visiting ten different public art sites in these specific areas and writing about them for the Art Places section of the Greater Pittsburgh Art Council website. Rachel Klipa, Program Manager for the Office of Public Art, was my mentor and the person to whom I reported. Once my submissions were submitted to her, Rachel would edit and then approve my writings once they were revised. Some of the Art Places Profiles I produced include the Westinghouse Memorial in Schenley Park, To Pittsburgh by Jenny Holzer in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, and the Edward Manning Bigelow statue in front of Phipps Conservatory.

    Categories: 
    • Academic Interns
    • Undergraduate Work
    • Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh