Blind is More
Now through February 21, 2021: On Route 22, it can be viewed on the right hand side traveling East in Delmont, after passing Route 66.
From December 28, 2020 through March 21, 2021: On Route 30, it can be viewed on the left hand side traveling towards Ligonier.
I met Autumn, Clyde, Dave, Liz and Mike at the Westmoreland County Blind Association (WBCA). Amy, the executive assistant at the WCBA made arrangements for me to connect with the five of them after she and I exchanged emails and phone calls about collaborating on a public art project. The six of us, along with one or two other staff met regularly to discuss the direction and content of the artwork.
At our first meeting I was told, “We are a silent group.” Autumn, Clyde, Dave, Liz and Mike each spoke of the challenges of having blindness and low vision and the difficulty for people who have vision to understand what their experiences are. The employment barriers. The unwillingness for others to make accommodations for them. They also shared their accomplishments, their successes, their triumphs, their knowledge, and their strengths. And like many creative interlopers I did my best to listen, understand and represent with the limitations and skills and strengths I have to amplify their message, “Blind is More,” in a manner that did not contribute to their vulnerability. These portraits do not jeopardize their safety. They can be felt and handled and touched. And though some of us may focus on the shadows these representations project, others know that the light shines through these portraits just as the light shines through Autumn, Clyde, Dave, Liz and Mike. -Edith Abeyta
Now through February 21, 2021: On Route 30, in Greensburg, it can be viewed on the left hand side traveling West, in the intersection with Route 119.
Now through December 27, 2020: On Route 56, it can be viewed on the left hand side traveling North, just outside New Kensington.
I imagined “Sunrise” as a work of social surrealism, harkening back to depression era murals that criticized the power structures responsible for declining socio-political conditions of working people. My process involved drawing and watercolor techniques developed by baroque era miniaturists, adapting a tradition that was at one time reserved solely for the aristocracy. The image acknowledges an uncertain future by reconceptualizing the symbolism of alchemy and divination. But the message is a hopeful one. I wanted to create an image of people working together to build a better society, an image that attributes strength to unity. -Dorion Barill
Embracing Collective Cultures
TINA WILLIAMS BREWER
Now through February 21, 2021: On Route 30, in Adamsburg, it can be viewed on the right hand side traveling West.
From December 28, 2020 through March 21, 2021: On Route 56, it can be viewed on the right hand side traveling North, Tarentum area.
The heart of this work stands in “Embracing Collective Cultures”. The interpretation of the collectivity of cultures seeks to enlarge the awareness of the traditions of storytelling through the lens of the story quilt. By incorporating textile quilting traditions–that date back centuries–such as piecing, appliqué, and embroidery, the quilt continues the tradition of the recycling of cultures. The traditional textile traditions interact with the visual representation of a memory board, which seeks to preserve the past through the combination of numerous cultures within each quilt block.
Within the quilt is a juxtaposition of patterns, colors, and arrangements which ask the viewer to imagine and reimagine the properties that create the overall design. As a whole, the piece speaks to the power of collectivity that contributes to a whole. Individually each fabric choice, placement, and thread all convey the individual experience of existing inside of a culture on its own. The piece both celebrates the individual while it embraces how individuality contributes to the collective. Through a contemporary blend of traditional fabric selections and patterns, viewers will undergo the subconscious experience of finding themself in the schema of the whole. The desire to find self inside of a Whole is the gist of embracing collectivity and individuality, one that is rooted in the double consciousness experience.
The central design arc “Arc of Justice, Yoke of Love” refers to Dr. Marin Luther King Jr.’s speech “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution” (National Cathedral, March 1968). Echoing the words of the 19th-century abolitionist and Unitarian minister Theodore Parker, King declared, “We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Thus, the arc of justice and yoke of love work simultaneously toward peace for all people.
Within each block, there are cultural cues associated with the combined patchwork Patterns which, refer to The Irish Chain, Indigenous Turtle, Mola, The Log Cabin, Dutchman Puzzle, Dresden Plate, Tree of Life, Stairway To The Stars, and Black Mudcloth as a connector and a supporter for each quilt block. The Sankofa bird–which traditionally represents returning to the past and bringing forward what is useful for the present–positions itself at the top of the quilt. The Sankofa stands tilted on one leg, simultaneously facing the past while looking forward to the future. The Sankofa stands as a representation of what we as people need to rise and move forth. – Tina Williams Brewer
A cat reminded me You are Me
Now through February 21, 2021: On Route 30, it can be viewed on the right hand side traveling East, near McKee Road, in the North Versailles-North Huntingdon area.
From December 28, 2020 through March 21, 2021: On Route 66, it can be viewed on the left hand side traveling North, just outside Vandergrift.
The best way to learn is by interacting with someone who has a different truth than mine. Diversity nourishes people helping them to learn something new. I think we learn more from somebody who is different, than somebody who is similar to ourselves, that is why I think that diversity strengthens a community. – Alejandro Fiez
Now through February 21, 2021: On Route 119, it can be viewed on the right hand side traveling North, leaving Connellsville towards 1-70.
Now through December 27, 2020 : On Route 30, it can be viewed on the left hand side traveling West, near the Main Street, Irwin.
During this time of political polarization and pandemic culture, the message of the billboard, as expected, will have many different interpretations but the goals in creating this piece are: first, LOVE in American Sign Language (ASL) is recognizable because of the similarity of the signed letters to the orthography of the word i.e. the L in ASL looks very much like the letter “L;” the O in ASL is similar to the letter “O” and so on. This creates a small but profound connection to people who are D/deaf ASL speakers. By simply making the connection of literacy in two languages, we open up a small opportunity to learn a different culture. As a person immersed in Deaf and Mainstream Culture, it is important to me to point out the intersections of these cultures. Second, unlike having text, American Sign Language is an active and dynamic language. The effort to communicate in ASL requires conspicuous action and this action is implied when you see the images of the signed letters. The billboard, though a static 2D image, is activated in the presence of the different hand letter shapes. Similar to the word LOVE, while the word is a noun, it is felt only with action. -Fran Flaherty
Now through February 21, 2021: On I-76, it can be viewed on the right hand side traveling North, approaching the Irwin area and Route 30.
From December 28, 2020 through March 21, 2021: On Route 51, it can be viewed on the right hand side traveling South, near the Rostraver Airport.
Embedded inside the word “community” is UNITY; due to the unfortunate circumstances of polarization and division within our society, we need to strengthen the bond we have with our neighbors. Selfless acts of compassion in our communities not only bring us closer together, but improve our personal wellbeing, ignite sense of purpose, and humble our egos. Humans are social creatures. We thrive when working together in unity. Together, we will build stronger communities.
Bridging the gap between the public’s perception of graffiti and public art, this piece lives in the heart of downtown New Kensington at 400 9th Street. The piece continues to be met with a positive reception by the community. – Shane Pilster
Now through December 27, 2020: On Route 22, in New Alexandria, it can be viewed on the right hand side traveling East, near Salem Drive.
From December 28, 2020 through March 21, 2021: On Route 31, it can be viewed on the left hand side traveling West from Acme to Mt. Pleasant.
My design for “Making Connections” sort of came to me the minute I heard about this project. For me, my art is all about giving a voice to the voiceless and sharing messages. So when I heard that this project was about celebrating differences, I leaped at the opportunity! My final design incorporates so many elements (differences), for example, the pieces are some core values that I believe we should have/ respect. The background is the rainbow which is tribute to my fellow lgbtqia2s+ community. And every hand is different to signify that it takes all kinds of people to make a strong community. This overall process was very informative for me, to say the least. I am relatively new to this level of artistry , so I made quite a few mistakes along the way. Thankfully the museum was there with their support and advice, every step of the way. – Amun Ray
Now through December 27, 2020: On Pittsburgh Street in Greensburg, it can be viewed on the left hand side traveling West, on the intersection with Highland Avenue.
Now through December 27, 2020 : On Route 217, it can be viewed on the left hand side traveling South, in Derry.
The title FULL SPECTRUM refers to social strengths—structural, physical and emotional.
Through linked arms, nine dancers become one. The dancers’ upper bodies emphasize connection, pronouncing and delineating an enclosure. Their linkage suggests a combined and connecting energy with great potential. This energy does not confer a heavy or permanent power; it is a dynamic current for shifting needs and circumstances. A color wheel occupies the space that their arms encircle. Its contours and center gaze out at us like an observant eye. Its rings and rays of colors suggest a multi-lensed eye, allowing for both multiple and singular perspectives. Is it seeing us or are we seeing it? The line between points of view is blurred. Its full spectrum is inclusive and non-hierarchical. There is no primacy, no black and white dichotomy. Instead, there is the perception and the reality of diversity as strength.
Notes on sources: The encompassing image is an altered photograph by AJ Johnson that documents Snap Crackle Pop, a 2018 performance by Carolyn Dorfman Dance. Snap Crackle Pop is a collaboration between Carolyn Dorfman and Renée Jaworski, Co-Artistic Director of PILOBOLUS, who merged their signature styles to create a work about connection—past, present, and future. Snap Crackle Pop had its World Premiere on April 14, 2018 at New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Credits: Photo source: Narratography/AJ Johnson and Carolyn Dorfman Dance. – Susanne Slavick
An Army of Lovers Cannot Fail
GINGER BROOKS TAKAHASHI
Now through February 21, 2020: On Route 119, it can be viewed on the right hand side traveling North, between Youngwood and South Greensburg.
From December 28, 2020 through March 27, 2021 : On Route 30, it can be viewed on the right hand side traveling East, between Idlewild Amusement Park and Ligonier.
My artwork for the Westmoreland County Billboard Campaign is a joyful, iconic piece celebrating LGBTQ lives and mutual aid. A rainbow of arms reaches out to one another, with one holding a sign emblazoned with the early gay liberation text, “An Army of Lovers Cannot Fail.” This artwork visualizes our differences as well as our human interconnectedness. Embodying the spirit of Gay Liberation and Stonewall, as well as our current protest movement, these arms are expressive representations of humanity: asking for a helping hand, offering support, assertion of dignity and liberty, protest, receptivity, kindness, and generosity. This piece reminds passersby that LGBTQ rights and racial justice were and are achieved through interconnected struggle and allyship, through people speaking out and protesting in the streets, demanding respect and legal rights. – Ginger Brooks Takahashi
There Are Black People In The Future: Westmoreland
ALISHA B. WORMSLEY
Now through February 21, 2020: On Route 22, it can be viewed on the left hand side traveling West, in the Murrysville area.
From December 28, 2020 through March 27, 2021 : On intersection of Route 119, Route 819 and Arch Street in Greensburg.
Before this text was a billboard it was an archival project. In Homewood, a neighborhood in Pittsburgh, this work began as a mantra, a ritual of collecting objects, printing them with the text, There Are Black People In The Future, and encased them in resin.
Writer Tameka Cage Conley writes about TABPITF in 2017, she says, “When we say the “future,” it could mean anything: grown children, life on another planet, retirement, safe drinking water for everyone on earth. We might recall iconic films or books that dare us to dream a world so unlike ours, it can only be called “fiction,” even as we pant for that world and place ourselves in it. In the future, our faces, limbs, and desires dance on water. Or, they are mounted in concrete.”
Now inspired by Westmoreland County, I see a community protecting their legacy, holding on to their own image. I want to pay homage to the past. Giving thanks to the dreams of our ancestors that ensured the text long before it was written by me. -Alisha B. Wormsley