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
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.”
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 twitter.com/iwasaround
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.
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.”
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.
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.
July: 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.
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.
September: 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.
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.
November: 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.
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.