For the entirety of 2015, every baby born at the Pittsburgh Midwife Center, St. Clair Hospital and UPMC Mercy will begin life as an art collector. Each month in 2015 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: Aaron Blum

Mist Over the Ohio by Aaron Blum

Mist Over the Ohio by Aaron Blum

Aaron Blum is a proud eighth-generation Scots-Irish Appalachian from the mountains of West Virginia who has lived in Pittsburgh since 2010.  He has always been aware of the views that others hold of his home, and his artwork is a product of his exploration of what it means to be Appalachian.  After graduating with degrees in photography from West Virginia University and Syracuse University, Aaron immediately began receiving recognition for his work including the Juror’s Choice Award at Center: Santa Fe, two Critical Mass 200 selections, and an Emerging Artist Honorable Mention from the Magenta Foundation.  His work has been presented in Fraction Magazine, CNN Photoblog, and Flakphoto and is in the permanent collection at both the Haggerty Museum of Art and the Houston Museum of Fine Art. 

 

A view across the river. On the near side of the river, at the bottom of the picture, grass and three or four small trees and shrubs; vines engulf one shrub at eight o’clock, reaching out toward the river. Then comes the river itself, calm brown water, its surface lightly rippled, reflecting a cloudy sky. About halfway up, a distant belt of trees marks the far side of the river. Beyond the belt of trees, two green hills of about equal height, the hill on our left slightly closer to the river; low-hanging clouds rest on the summits of both hills. The upper two-fifths of the picture are filled with clouds; the clouds rising above the hill on our left are dark; those on the right are brighter, with an undergirding of brown that echoes the brown of the river.
— John Lawson

 

February: Maria Mangano

Blue-breasted Kingfisher by Maria Mangano

Blue-breasted Kingfisher by Maria Mangano

Maria Mangano is an artist whose work focuses on the intersection of nature, museums, and science to address issues of wildness, conservation, memory, and humanness. A native of Syracuse, NY, Mangano moved to Pittsburgh, PA to attend Carnegie Mellon University, where she earned her BFA in Printmaking/Drawing/Painting. She has exhibited in Pittsburgh and regionally at the Chautauqua Institute in Western New York and at Arts Monongahela and West Liberty University in West Virginia. In 2014 her work was included in Errol Fuller’s book The Passenger Pigeon, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of the last Passenger Pigeon, Martha. In addition to working at the Mattress Factory, a museum of contemporary art, Mangano maintains a studio in Pittsburgh’s South Side Slopes neighborhood.

From the eleven o’clock position, a brown vine slopes down and across the totally black background toward the viewer, then swings up and disappears to the right. At the center of the picture, a bird clutches the vine: its breast is a luminous blue that extends up to the back of its head; its long, pointed beak is red; it has a white belly. The bird’s black eye-socket and wings echo the deep black of the background, and the claws with which it grips the vine are the same red as its beak. The bird’s black-feathered tail descends on the far side of the vine. The bird is staring down intently, its red beak resting on its blue breast.
— John Lawson
Likeness by Stephanie Armbruster

Likeness by Stephanie Armbruster

Stephanie Armbruster documents pivotal moments of transition through the abstraction of symbols and layered references to time and place. Stephanie was born in Cleveland, OH in 1983. She moved to Pittsburgh in 2001 to attend Carnegie Mellon University, where she received a BFA in 2006. Stephanie is a 2011 Flight School for Artists Fellow. 

Her work has been presented in solo exhibitions at 709 Penn Gallery and the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, and in group exhibitions at James Gallery, the Los Angeles Printmaking Society, the Carnegie Museum of Art, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Mattress Factory Museum of Art, and others.

 

A gray surface from which several layers of colorful posters or decals have been partially scraped away. The scraping has left ten or twelve vertical columns of color: the column farthest to the left is black near the top, pale orange near the bottom; the next column to the right is mainly grayish-white, with splotches of orange and light pink; next, a column with black on top and a more intense orange below. We sense that these colors may have been letters once, now indecipherable. Moving right, we pick up splotches of blue. The borders between the columns often blur: a slanting, jagged cloud of white and gray and occasional blue cuts across the center of the columns, and softer white mists encroach on the columns from the bottom and top. Toward the right side of the picture, the gray under-surface juts in toward the columns, breaking them up and leaving only a few scattered islands and peninsulas of white, black, orange, and blue.
— John Lawson
Untitled by Becky Slemmons

Untitled by Becky Slemmons

Becky Slemmons works in the disciplines of drawing, painting, video, photography, performance,fibers, glass and sound. She obtained her BFA in drawing and painting from the University of Michigan and her MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Mt. Royal School of Art. Becky was awarded a Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center Collaborative Fellowship Residency and also a Heinz endowment to serve as an artist resident at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She has completed two artist residencies in Germany and one in Estonia. She has exhibited her work in Berlin, Germany; Seoul, Korea; Portland, OR; Baltimore, MD; Washington, DC and Pittsburgh, PA. Becky has spoken about her own work in conjunction with an exhibition of Jeffrey Vallance's work at the Andy Warhol Museum.

Becky has moved nine times in her life, which is also her favorite number. She currently lives and works in Pittsburgh with her husband and her dog. In her work, she searches for truths that are common throughout multiple cultures. 

A background of pastel green. At the center, an egg-shell, its outer surface the same pastel green, is broken into two pieces; the larger piece rests against the smaller. To our left, the smaller piece rests on the green surface, resembling a helmet; underneath, a dark shadow. The larger piece of shell is turned upward, revealing the inside of the shell, its off-white dramatically contrasting with the surrounding green. A hairline crack in the shell is visible. In the lower quarter of the frame, a shadow from the larger piece of shell reaches toward the right side of the picture.
— John Lawson
Surface Structure by Kara Skylling

Surface Structure by Kara Skylling

May: Kara Skylling

Kara Skylling is an artist currently living and working in Pittsburgh, PA. She received her BFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University. Influenced by the human interaction with variations of place, movement, and time; her work explores pattern and process found in urban landscapes and architecture through the creation of deconstructed compositions and images using line, form, and color with a focus on process, repetition and materiality.

She has exhibited throughout the region and in 2013 she received the Leon A. Arkus award for her work at Carnegie Museum of Art. This past year she was featured as an artist for Alloy Pittsburgh at Carrie Furnaces as well as in the 2014 Pittsburgh Biennial.

 

A gray cement wall with flecks of white gleaming through; two-thirds of the way toward the top of the frame, a brown line, possibly a piece of ductwork, cuts horizontally all the way across the surface. Above, the roofline, a strip of white topped with thin layers of gray and black, also cuts across the frame, carving out a patch of brilliantly blue sky at the top right of the picture, then angling up to intersect the frame at the top left corner. In the lower left corner, a shadow parallels the upward angle of the roofline.
— John Lawson

June: Terry Boyd

#nofilter by Terry Boyd

#nofilter by Terry Boyd

Through performance, abstraction and minimalist fiber art, Terry Boyd explores and interrogates systems of visual language. His staged performances of bow and arrow literally breakthrough and breakdown tradition. The violence of the arrow and the purity of the white linen creates an elegant tension between the feminine and masculine and life and death. With drawings, sewn linen and machinelike abstractions, Boyd strives to create pieces that continue to reveal our fascination with the void.

His current body of work explores the language of abstraction and the difficulties, also failures, in translating ideas from man to machine. The delicate hand-drawn line works are digitized and run through a custom image compression program, pixilating the image beyond recognition. The image is then sent through an embroidery formatting software that attempts to translate the simple 2D digital file into a complex, thread-based object. The results are beautiful, impromptu abstractions that are systematically made by a logic-based machine. Boyd is trying to teach his sewing machine to think and react like an abstract expressionist painter.

A valley opens toward us. In the distance, two mountains push in from left and right; the nearer mountain, on the right, is illuminated by shafts of sunlight: overhead, a shelf of storm-clouds is moving off, allowing the sun to break through. The farther mountain, to the left and center, is bathed in mist. Closer, to our left, a one-story farmhouse overlooks flat fields, most recently plowed, their soil a rich, dark brown. In the immediate foreground, a patch of grass and, to the right, a litter of wood, and stakes driven into the ground to support sheets of corrugated metal, perhaps a pen for pigs or chickens.
— John Lawson


July: Leo Hsu

Aviary by Leo Hsu

Aviary by Leo Hsu

Leo Hsu has been engaged with photography since he took a basic photography class at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts when he was fourteen. Leo is interested in the ways that photography extends our engagement with what we find significant and meaningful, and in the ways that photography is used as both expression and communication.  Leo is an instructor in the photography program at Carnegie Mellon University, and a regular contributor to the online magazine Fraction. He has collaborated with the Silver Eye Center for Photography to produce several exhibitions including HomeFrontLine: Reflections on 10 Years of War Since 9/11, No Job No Home No Peace No Rest: An Installation by Will Steacy, and A World Imagined featuring Sara Macel and Kelli Connell. Leo holds a PhD in Anthropology from New York University.

 

 

At the center, two parrots perch near the top of a large, graceful cage. The birds are mostly gray; the smaller has one orange tail-feather, the larger a ble breast. Below and to the sides of the cage, palm-fronds are held in check by a blue museum belt; the palm-fronds reach across the blue belt toward us. Beyond, five tall plate-glass windows look out toward several high-rise apartment buildings, light beige. A massive oak tree explodes toward the sky between two of the buildings. The scene outside is blurred, possibly by a gauzy curtain. Images of six parrots in flight appear to have been adhered to the curtain—or are the birds outside real and really flying past?
— John Lawson
WSW 1810 (Loudoun County, VA) by Matthew Conboy

WSW 1810 (Loudoun County, VA) by Matthew Conboy

Matthew Conboy is an artist and photographer working in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After earning a BS in architecture from the Catholic University of America, he studied photography at Virginia Commonwealth University where he received his MFA. He recently finished his PhD at Ohio University where he wrote his dissertation on W. Eugene Smith's Pittsburgh Project. Matthew teaches photography at Robert Morris University and lives in the Mexican War Street neighborhood on the North Side of Pittsburgh. 

Matthew's print for August comes from his West South West project where he photographed the centers of population that are plotted at the conclusion of every US Census. These are the locations where a map of the Untied States would be balanced if every person weighed the same. These centers have moved from the Eastern Shore of Maryland in 1790 to central Missouri in 2010.

Matthew’s current work documents Skatopia, a surreal 88-acre skate park located in rural southeast Ohio. Skatopia functions as a pilgrimage site for skaters from around the world, a refuge for young people looking for direction in their lives, and an anarchist commune. Through his photographs, Conboy wished to turn his camera away from the skaters, and instead search for the narrative threads that link the unique individuals portrayed in his images to each other and to the physical and cultural landscapes of southeast Ohio.  

 

The lower three-fifths of the image is a mass of green: thousands of stalks of pasture-grass reaching toward a cloudy sky. The shades of green vary: in some areas the grass appears slightly darker, perhaps reflecting variations in the ground beneath. The clouds at the top of the frame are also mottled, some areas white, other areas dark. Along the slightly sloping line where the grass meets the clouds, a fringe of grass-stalks stitches the two masses of grass and cloud together.
— John Lawson

September: John Altdorfer

Mellow Yellow by John Altdorfer

Mellow Yellow by John Altdorfer

John Altdorfer likes to think of himself as a cat with nine careers lives and hopes you like his photos because this is at least his ninth career. To his surprise, John's photos have turned up in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal photo of the day blog, USA Today, Pittsburgh Magazine and other national and local publications. At this point in his life's journey, John realizes that the light at the end of the tunnel is much too bright and approaching too quickly. But he hopes that his photo for this project will make the amazing trip ahead more enjoyable for all the new arrivals.

John invites you to check out more of his work at www.jaltdorferphotography.com. But make sure the kids aren't around. Some of the photos are more suitable for grownup eyes.

 

A brilliant-yellow maple leaf occupies the center of the frame, its five large veins and network of smaller capillaries clearly visible. Its shiny brown stem descends from the eleven o’clock position. Behind, a blur of black images—tree-trunks, branches—tangle chaotically against a background of blue; a white light peeks around the lower edges of the yellow leaf.
— John Lawson

October: Ivette Spradlin

D with Binoculars, Turkey, 2006 by Ivette Spradlin

D with Binoculars, Turkey, 2006 by Ivette Spradlin

Ivette Spradlin is a Cuban-American photographer, video artist, and educator. She received her BFA in Photography from the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia and her MFA in Photography from Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She focuses on photographing people and their surroundings concentrating on the emotional aspects of transition, adaptation, and balance in one's life. She is a Flight School Fellow, Artist Opportunity Grant awardee, and an Art on the Walls artist through the Pittsburgh Arts Council. She has been published in Next Level Magazine, screened her films nationally, including at the Carnegie Museum of Art and Transmodern Film Festival in Baltimore. Most recently, her Oval Portrait photographs were part of a Magenta Foundation pop-up, public art project in downtown Pittsburgh and she was part of the 2014 Pittsburgh Biennial.  As part of a portrait swap project curated by Stuart Pilkington, Spradlin's portrait of Aaron Blum and Blum's portrait of her was featured on the BBC.

An auburn-haired woman in a purple top is seated in the lower quarter of the picture. Glasses pushed up on top of her head, she peers through black binoculars at a point behind, above and to the right of the photographer. The binocular’s large lenses reflect an unearthly, intense reddish-orange. The woman’s blue-jean-covered knee fills the bottom left corner of the frame. Behind, a rocky hillside covered with small trees and wild shrubs rises, out of-focus. Immediately behind and partially framing the woman’s head, a strip of white aluminum anchors four ropes that descend into the frame from the upper left.
— John Lawson


November: Christine Holtz

Bigbee Field by Christine Holtz

Bigbee Field by Christine Holtz

Christine Holtz is a Pittsburgh based artist, photographer and educator. She earned her BFA in photography from the Rhode Island School of Design and her MFA in imaging arts from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Her photography has been exhibited and collected nationally. Select exhibitions include George Eastman House (Rochester, NY), Gallery Katz (Boston, MA), Boston Center for the Arts (Boston, MA), Gallery 1101, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (Carbondale, IL) and SRO Gallery, Texas Tech University, (Lubbock, TX).

Christine serves on the Board of Directors for Pittsburgh Filmmakers, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and is co-curator of the Sewickley Arts Initiative. 

 

A view of downtown Pittsburgh from a hilltop south of the Mon River. At our feet, wild-flowers, orange and white. Concrete steps descend from the right leading to a gravel path that winds downhill toward a forest; the city rises from among the trees. At one point, the trees part to reveal a glimpse of the river’s surface that reflects an overcast sky. To our right, a triangle of short grass juts into the frame: the corner of a backyard enclosed by a wire fence.
— John Lawson

December: Ryan Lammie

The Opening by Ryan Lammie

The Opening by Ryan Lammie

Ryan Lammie is a Pittsburgh native that has recently moved back to Pittsburgh from Brooklyn, NY, where he studied painting at Pratt Institute. During his time at Pratt, Ryan coordinated the largest student-run exhibitiion in Pratt History and attended the Yale Norfolk Residency Program. The last three years he has been in Pittsburgh, working on two series titled "Origins" and "Gravity". He will be starting on a third series not yet titled which will focus on site-specific installation and photography. 

A black-and-white grid of cardboard boxes, photographed from above. The boxes are arranged in rows, five across and four down, twenty in all. All of the boxes are open toward the camera except two. The boxes are of various sizes; some look even larger because all four of their flaps are turned outward; others have only one or two or three flaps turned out. One box appears empty; the other boxes contain various materials: wads of newspaper or plastic, bubble-wrap, packing peanuts, rectangles of Styrofoam, a padded envelope that someone has discarded.