For the entirety of 2016, every baby born at the Pittsburgh Midwife Center, St. Clair Hospital and UPMC Mercy will begin life as an art collector. Each month in 2016 is assigned to a local artist who will create an image that will only be given to babies born in that month. To view the artists' websites, please click on their name. 


January: Jake Reinhart

Mt. Washington Landscape by Jake Reinhart

Jake Reinhart is a photographer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He earned a B.A. in Sociology and a Juris Doctor from the University of Pittsburgh. He is a recent recipient of: a Pittsburgh Filmmakers Emerging Photographer award; an Artist Opportunity Grant from the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council; and was a semi-finalist in the Philadelphia Print Center's 89th annual international photography and print competition. Jake has assisted photographers such as Zoe Strauss, Mark Neville, and Melodie McDaniel. He has exhibited his photographs in Pittsburgh, Nashville, and San Francisco.

This image is part of Homespun, a larger body of work. Homespun is a word often used to describe the unrefined quality of something, but it can also imply that something has a unique or personal touch. Homespun is about the fiber of a culture, of a community. It is an exploration of an underestimated space. 

I made this photograph because I was drawn to the natural elements of the landscape with the trees and the rolling hillside. I think the small grouping of houses can serve as a metaphor for life in this region—a domestic area cut into the forest around us. I tend to use natural elements like that to express that balance between the nurturing and stifling elements of “home.”

From a hill, we’re looking across a small valley toward another hill covered with dark-green trees. Among the trees, a small patch of buildings sprouts like rectangular toadstools, some barely clinging to the slope, others squat: white, gray, blue, beige, and poison-taffy pink. Above, a purplish, overcast sky. Beyond the hill, a distant ridge winds off to the left edge of the frame, more buildings dimly visible on its slopes, half-obscured by purplish mist.


February: Foo Conner

Cityscape by Foo Conner

Foo Conner is an entrepreneur with an eye for stories. As founder and primary photographer for Jekko Media, his work is a gateway into Pittsburgh’s story of renewal. His photos encapsulate the full spectrum of life; he focuses on what makes us all human. It’s no surprise that after attending over a thousand events his work has turned up in NPR, Think Progressive, Yes! Magazine, etc.

When he’s not out taking photos, he fills his time with reach-for-the-stars projects. Since 2004 he has produced music festivals to promote social justice. In 2011, he spoke out against big banks in New York City as he helped organize Occupy Wall Street. In 2013 he founded Jekko, an internet media company that covers arts, culture, and tech.

He loves meeting people! Reach him at

A row of wooden lath strips rises from the bottom of the frame. The strips are whitened by the plaster that once covered them; thin columns of crumbling plaster hold them apart. The wooden strips have snapped off at various heights, giving the impression of skyscrapers in a ghostly cityscape. Behind the row of strips, a wall of red bricks rises lengthwise to the top of the frame. The bricks are stained with dark-gray mortar, forming a gritty, impenetrable sky above the pale city.


March: Dylan Vitone

Fireworks by Dylan Vitone

Dylan Vitone is a photographer based in Pittsburgh. He holds a BA from St. Edward's University and an MFA from Massachusetts College of Art. He is Associate Professor in the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University. His photographs have been exhibited widely and collected by museums including; The Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP), The Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History, George Eastman House, Portland Art Museum, Nelson-Atkins Museum, Brooks Museum of Art, Harry Ransom Center, Polaroid Collection, Carnegie Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. His photographic projects are based around geographical location where he uses those locations to speak about greater social and cultural phenomenon.

A small attic bedroom in black and white. We look across the only piece of furniture, a bed with a patterned comforter and pillow, toward the window, which frames two fireworks bursting brightly in the dark sky. A small electric clock at the head of the bed displays the numerals 10:07.


April: Sue Abramson

Elephant Ear #1, 2014 by Sue Abramson

Sue Abramson is a fine art photographer working in Pittsburgh. For nearly 30 years she has experimented with alternative photographic methods—photograms, cyanotype, pinhole, and scanning—in connection with the environmental landscape. Her work has been widely exhibited, including one-person exhibitions in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Seattle. Her photography has been curated into 2-person and group exhibitions nationally and internationally, including Prague, Pittsburgh, Colorado, South Carolina, Texas, and New York. She has received awards and commissions from Silver Eye Center for Photography, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, and Pittsburgh Society of Artists, and her work is included in the collections of The Carnegie Museum of Art, The Polaroid Corporation, University of Pittsburgh, Biblioteque Nationale, and Blue Cross of Western Pennsylvania, among others.

Abramson’s photography focuses on the organic and fragmented composition of nature. She simultaneously explores the process of grief and grieving and has lectured on art and grief at the F295 2012 symposium, the Good Grief Center of Pittsburgh, and the Wellness Center in Wilmington Delaware. 

She is Associate professor of photography at Pittsburgh Filmmakers, where she has taught photographic methods for 29 years. Art critic Mary Thomas writing for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called Abramson’s work “simultaneously confident and humble, assertive and demure…. [Abramson’s] commitment and close observation have resulted in a honed body of work in which the superfluous is eliminated to produce compositions that project beauty, often humor and not a little mystery through subjects that are often dismissed as mundane.”

A single leaf from an elephant-ear plant faces us against a black background. The leaf comes to a point near the bottom of the frame as it slopes down on both sides, widening and ascending to form two lobes at the top. About a quarter of the way down the center of the leaf, a white spot shows where the stem formed on the back side of the leaf to connect it to the plant. There is no other sign of the stem. The left edge of the leaf curls up slightly to reveal a sliver of the much lighter back side, almost white.


May: Seth Clark

Play More, II by Seth Clark

Clark grew up in Seekonk, Massachusetts and studied close to home in Providence at the Rhode Island School of Design. He earned his BFA in Graphic Design, focusing primarily on print design and alternative typography. During this time, he discovered collage. This method of hands-on, spatial development took a major role in his digital work as well as his physical works on wood and paper. His drawings and paintings have shown nationally including exhibitions in the Carnegie Museum of Art and the the Chautauqua Institution, Recent honors include Best in Show at the Three Rivers Arts Festival and publication in New American Paintings. Clark is a 2012 Flight School Fellow and has been named Pittsburgh’s 2015 Emerging Artist of the Year by the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. He is the recipient of three Design Excellence Awards from the American Institute of Graphic Arts, Pittsburgh.

I knew I wanted to do something experimental for Start with Art--something that took me away from my normal body of work and brought me back to the days of wooden blocks, Legos, and Jenga. The pleasure of building things up and breaking them down has influenced my work for as long as I remember.

Play More, II is one in an ongoing series of photographs that are created with various oddities in my studio. These miniature, temporary installations are a joy to make and remind me of how important it is to constantly experiment and make beautiful messes.




A heap of roughly thirty rectangular shapes: white boxes intermingled with light-colored wooden frames that contain sheets of some glass-like, reflective and translucent material. Some of these sheets may be mirrors, reflecting the white boxes and framed images around them; others contain blurred images, mostly blue. The white boxes are square on top and bottom, rectangular around the four sides; the box closest to us, at the front and bottom of the heap, reveals an empty side; the box appears to be hollow. The heap has been carefully arranged on a white, shelf-like surface that angles up behind to the top of the frame, above the top of the heap, and drops off toward the bottom of the frame, creating a shadow. Many of the boxes and wood-framed images are precariously placed; it’s not clear what’s holding them together and why they don’t tumble to the floor.


June: Casey Droege

North Star, 2010 by Casey Droege

Casey Droege is a cultural producer and artist. Recently selected as one of Pittsburgh Magazine’s “40 Under 40," she was a curator for the 2014 Pittsburgh Biennial, is co-founder of CSA PGH, and founder of Six x Ate.  Droege earned her MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art and her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is currently an Assistant Professor at AI Pittsburgh and Adjunct Professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Recent exhibitions include: Threewalls, Chicago, IL; Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit MI, Passerby, Los Angeles CA and Chatham University, Pittsburgh, PA.

The North Star marks the end of the Little Dipper's handle in the night sky. It's one of the brightest stars and was often used for navigation. I took this photograph while living in rural Nebraska, trying to decide where to go and what to do next in my life. I used the resources around me (rifles, building parts, and office supplies) to create my own constellation and navigational tool, as I pieced together my own path through life. May this photograph serve as a reminder to your child that they can navigate roads less traveled, create their own resources, and find bright stars wherever they land.

Contradictory information: 1) We’re looking down toward our feet: a pair of legs in cuffed gray pants ending with feet encased in dark-blue socks and blue-and-green shoes with lace-holes but no laces. But 2) we’re also looking up, toward a rough wooden window-frame: our feet are braced on either side. Within the frame, the top pane goes all the way across, right to left; the bottom half is divided into two panes of equal size. All three panes are covered with dark-blue plastic with sparkly holes to resemble stars in the night sky. The plastic adheres to the glass very roughly: white seams shoot through the sky, and in the upper left there is a large, irregular gap, also white. Just below the center of the frame, where the three panes come together, a backlight shines brightly, illuminating this up/down universe.

The Growing Season: July (Excerpt) by Jessica Server

Jessica Server is a published poet, nonfiction writer, and freelance journalist. She has lived and traveled all over the U.S. and abroad, and her writing takes heavy influence from the places of her life. Jessica's writing applies inquiry and curiosity to gray areas--conflict, confusion, struggle, challenge, loss, longing, and growth--the spaces between what is easily known, where she often finds surprising power, awe, and imagination. Her chapbook of poems, Sever the Braid, is currently available from Finishing Line Press. 

"The Growing Season" uses a yearlong garden cycle to meditate on the theme of development. Jessica has discovered surprising connections between people and plants, namely that growth for both is ultimately a balance of chaos and order. The book questions the inherent mystery, violence, and duality--sacrifice and gain, rebellion and submission, brutality and compassion, birth and death--of growth in its many forms. Dark and sensory, musical and mundane, "The Growing Season" aims to capture the chaos and wild beauty inherent in the human--and nonhuman--worlds.

A piece of white paper with a typed poem lies on dark soil; a metal hand-spade with a red handle angles across the upper right-hand corner of the page; two green leaves intrude from left and right, closer to the camera and slightly out of focus. On the paper, the poem begins with three lines: “July asks: / how do you want / to be loved?” Then a white space followed by an eight-line stanza, with every second line indented: “Like a delicate pea tendril / stunted at the first sign of heat? / Like a dark beetroot / cradled by mineral earth? / Like hearty kale / whose bitter bite survives the frost? / Like prolific squash / vining—headstrong—without invitation?” Then another white space followed by a four-line stanza in which each line is indented further: “Or like an open sunflower / your face a blank canvas for the light / brushing the fence line / brightening the divide?” The bottom right part of the paper curls up toward the camera, so the final three lines are increasingly blurred.


August: Gavin White

halfandhalf 1 (Pelotas) and halfandhalf 2 (Lisboa) by Gavin White

Gavin grew up in Mars but is now thoroughly a Pittsburgher, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh with degrees in History and Architecture. He has designed sets for film, performances and other events in collaboration with artists from all over the world. He is generally interested in spaces and places: How do they define us? How do we best shape them? What does it take to do so?

Gavin lives in Hazelwood and explores a variety of arts in his free time. He loves Brazilian music and speaks (some) Portuguese. You’ll also find him slinging pierogi at the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern every Saturday.

Half this, half that. It’s a special type of symmetry. Each half is different, but both command equal attention. And in the middle of the two halves is a meeting point—a wavering painted line, a wiggly crack, a grouted seam—a unique mark that distinguishes one half from the other and binds the two together. Each halfandhalf photograph tempts viewers to study both halves, and to wonder at how they’ve met. 

halfandhalf 1 (Pelotas) was captured in Pelotas, Brazil in the spring of 2013 (fall, for Pittsburgh). The vibrant differences in color and texture between each building in this small city prompted an obsessive exploration of their relationships and conjunctions, ultimately birthing the whole halfandhalf series.

halfandhalf 2 (Lisboa) was taken in Lisbon, Portugal in 2015 as a continuing practice of documenting halfandhalf moments. This series explores the vibrant differences in color and texture between various buildings and structures and began in Pelotas, Brazil in 2013.

Two rectangles, concrete surfaces painted light brown and blue. On the left, the blue occupies the top half with light brown at the bottom; on the right, the top is brown, the bottom blue. On the left, just where the two colors meet, a crack in the surface oscillates slightly into the blue, then into the brown, then back into the blue. The effect is of a desert landscape, the slight oscillations of the crack suggesting distant hills or mountains. On the right, the brown concrete at the top is extremely rough, violently scored with grooves that rise almost like flames at an angle from right to left. The blue at the bottom is relatively smooth, as if we were watching a great city burn in the distance across a calm lake or ocean.


September: April Friges

Little Spectator 0816 by April Friges

April Friges creates abstract images in her darkroom without the use of a camera, lens, or computer. These prints, known as photograms, allow Friges to create images with the most rudimentary essentials of the photographic process - light, shadow, and light-sensitive paper. These works have a brilliant grayscale range and precision one would expect to find with a digital process, yet they are completely analog. Friges often sculpts her prints into three dimensional forms that call attention not only to the image on the surface of the paper, but to the physical qualities of the paper itself. Through her Spectator series, she considers the ideology of the term, photography, how personal philosophy can range in definition from person to person, and how the translation differs today in both physical and immaterial form. 

Friges has created 275 unique images for Start with Art, so (like the babies themselves) no two are exactly alike. It is her intent to draw attention to the vanishing definition that once defined photography and its collecting culture.  For this program, Friges is creating small versions of her Spectator works to ‘grow up’ with a new generation that may never have the opportunity to engage in photography’s analog process, going against the contemporary changes of the medium.

April Friges was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and resided in California for eight years, where she received her MFA in studio art from The University of California, Irvine. Her work has been shown in galleries and museums such as LAXART, Los Angeles, CA (2010); Autonomie, Los Angeles, CA (2011); The Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence, KS (2012); The Printed Matter, New York, NY (2013); MOCAD, Detroit, MI (2013); Sculpture X, Columbus, OH (2013); ForYourArt, Los Angeles, CA (2014); 20 Jay St, Brooklyn, NY, (2014); Filter Space, Chicago, Ill (2015). Friges lives and works in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she is the Assistant Professor of the BFA Photography program at Point Park University. 

Black-and-white images; each one unique. On the back of each image, a caption reads “Little Spectator,” followed by a number: 0116, 0216, 0416, and so on. The images display white objects that resemble shreds of paper against a black background. In some images, the white pieces are sharply defined, with clear edges, appearing to flutter almost like snowfall; in other images, the pieces bunch together and blur. Some of the blurred masses seem to suggest violent events: flames, an explosion on the sun, a vast whirlpool. In some of the images, the white pieces populate the black space more or less evenly; in others, the darkness of the background takes over large parts of the frame.


October: Meghan Olson

A Mind of Winter (Detail) by Meghan Olson

Unexceptional. My work is most exceptional in that it isn’t exceptional, often being nothing more than a surprising re-acquaintance with phenomena familiar and already known. I look. I watch and then recreate found moments where light, material, color and space are connected, dependent, and for a brief moment, alive.

Robert Duncan wrote of a meadow where phenomena such as light and space were created by a simple, curious, playful language. In a sense my work exists in this meadow where the particularity of ordinariness is investigated through simple arrangements of common materials, raw and not quite touched, with natural phenomena. Curious, statements and situations are created with cardboard, 2x4’s, wire, fabric, light, gravity and space; everyday materials and spaces paired with unexceptional interventions that express extraordinary circumstances. These are moments of formal connection and disconnection, balance and instability, cause and effect; a seemingly magical transformation of independent articles into something else.

I am intrigued by moments of doubt when something ordinary, outside in the world, moves inside to where it becomes peculiar. These are observations of the sublime and the normalized; spaces and relationships that are at the same time vulnerable and strong, provisional and permanent.

Approximately thirty two-by-fours, blond wood, leaning in three ranks against a blue wall; only the top few inches of the boards are visible. The top ends of the two-by-fours have color: the tops of the nearest pieces are red; farther down, some are green and orange. On some of the tops, pieces of colored paper with curled edges. On the wall above the boards, what appear to be chalk-marks, green, white, orange, blue, create the illusion that the colors on the board tops are vividly reflecting.


November: Chris McGinnis

The view up Clarion by Chris McGinnis

Chris McGinnis is an artist, curator and educator working in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. He has exhibited extensively nationally and internationally, with over ten solo exhibitions and over 40 group exhibitions in recent years. He has created projects for the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, Urban Institute of Contemporary Art, the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and The Rivers of Steel Heritage Area. He is co-founder of the Pittsburgh-based Alloy Arts Organization and regularly attends national and international artist-in-residence programs. His work has been published in the National Studio Visit Magazine, European Art Magazine, The MFA Now catalog, Manifest’s International Painting Annual as well as numerous local and university publications including Pittsburgh’s Post Gazette and The Tribune Review. Chris has worked for institutions across the country including Carnegie Mellon University and The University of Arizona. He is currently Assistant Professor of Art at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Director of the University’s Kipp Gallery.

A wide stream flowing through wooded country. In the foreground, on the left side of the stream, a tangle of grass, long green blades with red ones intermingled, grows out of a fallen log. Beyond, a grassy bank where a tree leans out over the water. In the distance on the opposite side, a shelf of rock protrudes from among trees; farther on, mist drifts down from an overcast sky, whitening the forest. The surface of the water is calm: a few ripples. In the distance, the water reflects the dark green of the trees; nearby, it reflects the white of the sky, adding a hint of blue.


December: Danny Bracken

Rising, Gathering by Danny Bracken

Danny Bracken’s creative practice explores interactions between video, sound, and physical space, ranging from immersive, multi-sensory installations to small-scale sculptures. Born into a family of musicians, sound occupies a central role in his work; finding a place in film scores, installations, and stand-alone recordings. At the heart of these investigations lies an interest in the relationship between humans, the natural world, and technology. Throughout the work he explores the ways in which technology has shifted how we perceive and experience the people and places that surround us. Bracken’s music further extends this dialogue, examining the tenuous balance between digital possibility and human impression, creating in a context that is constantly shifting between analog and digital realms. 

After completing a visual arts degree in 2005, Bracken joined the Chicago-based music collective Anathallo. The group toured extensively throughout North America, Europe, and Japan with over 500 performances including appearances at Lollapalooza, Coachella, among others. He returned to exhibiting visual art in 2010 with a commission for the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 2014 he was awarded an Artist Opportunity Grant to support a residency at La Fragua, in Belalcazar, Spain. He was again commissioned by the Mattress Factory for a large scale installation as part of the 2014 Pittsburgh Biennial. In early 2015 he mounted his first solo exhibition, HERE in partnership with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. He has composed music for film and television, most notably for the documentary Blood Brother, a 2013 Sundance Festival award winner.

A forest clearing: the ground is covered with red leaves. In the foreground, a fallen branch, black and gray; behind and to the right, more fallen branches. From among the fallen branches, in the center of the picture, a lavender line zig-zags up and traces a crazy, erratic design against the stately backdrop of the autumn trees; the lavender line explodes with electric energy. In the background, through the dark columns of the tree trunks, two hills dressed in green and yellow and a hazy sky.