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Artists Drew From Neighbors Of Carrie Furnaces For Alloy Pittsburgh

As far as steel-making goes, the Carrie Blast Furnaces have been cold for decades. But the exhibit called Alloy Pittsburgh seeks to warm up the sprawling National Historic Landmark site with art.

The fourth Alloy Pittsburgh features work by six artists who each served a three-month residency with a different neighboring community organization. “Interactions with community members would somehow find their way either to inspiring the installations and informing what went into them, [or] contributing in some cases to what went into them,” said Chris McGinnis, director of arts for the nonprofit Rivers of Steel, which runs the site in Swissvale.

Initial match-ups commenced before the pandemic began, and the works were originally meant to debut in September 2020. The postponed exhibit’s artworks include Bradford Mumpower’s “Greens Jacket #1” — a 50-foot-tall scale replica of one of the protective green jackets worn by steelworkers, mounted on the side of the old Blowing Engine House. Mumpower’s residency was with the Wilkins School Community Center, and the idea grew out of his conversations with former mill workers, said McGinnis. The piece pays homage to “the larger-than-life notion of steel, and steelmaking in Pittsburgh,” he added.

Artist Sandy Kessler-Kaminski was paired with the Rankin Christian Center. Her “Legacy” is a room-sized installation that incorporates architectural drawings from both the Carrie site and an expansion of the Center, along with cast-metal and -glass birds created through a Rivers of Steel metal-arts residency. The birds are suspended from the ceiling. “The magnets in these metal birds hold up the drawings, and they sort of rust and corrode over time and create those prints on the drawings themselves,” said McGinnis.

The other works are by Darnell Chambers (who was hosted by Dragon’s Den, a youth center in Homestead); Reba Harmon (Three Rivers Village School, in Hazelwood); Lori Hepner (Braddock Carnegie Library Association); and Jan Loney (hosted by Rivers of Steel itself).

The project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The exhibit opened Aug. 28 and runs through Sept. 26. It is open for viewing Fridays through Saturdays as part of a special version of Rivers of Steel’s weekly site-wide tours, which include other, permanent artworks on the site, including the famous Carrie Deer sculpture. Tickets are $10.

In addition Meet-the-Artists Happy Hours are scheduled Thu., Sept. 9, and Sept 23. Tickets for those events are $25.

More information is here.

Bill is a long-time Pittsburgh-based journalist specializing in the arts and the environment. Previous to working at WESA, he spent 21 years at the weekly Pittsburgh City Paper, the last 14 as Arts & Entertainment editor. He is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and in 30-plus years as a journalist has freelanced for publications including In Pittsburgh, The Nation, E: The Environmental Magazine, American Theatre, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Bill has earned numerous Golden Quill awards from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. He lives in the neighborhood of Manchester, and he once milked a goat. Email: