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Artist Kamara Townes Takes A Page From Warhol, Using Colorful Pop Art To Challenge Biases

Sarah Bader
Courtesy of Kamara Townes
Artist Kamara Townes poses in front of her exhibition "Protect Black Women."

Kamara Townes, who goes professionally by Wavy Wednesday, is an emerging artist who uses satire in her work to explore pop culture and racism. She uses bright colors and draws on cultural symbols like Barbie to confront social justice through her work. 

“Being a black woman is feeling like you’re automatically placed on the outside,” she tells The Confluence. Townes draws from uncomfortable situations she and her peers face, she says, and she uses her visibility from platforms like Instagram to inspire and educate others.

Her first solo exhibition, Protect Black Women, debuted last fall and opens in New York City this spring.

Credit Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA
90.5 WESA
A woman poses with a printed, black-and-white sign on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, as part of the Women's March on Washington.

Later in the program, it's been more than three weeks since a fire damaged equipment at Clairton Coke Works, leading to sulfur dioxide emissions that kept residents indoors and may be to blame for more frequent reports of difficulty breathing in the area. Jim Kelly, deputy director of environmental health for the Allegheny County Health Department, explains how air quality is being monitored, why the plant has not been shut down and what solutions might be in the works.

A recent federal rule from Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services now requires hospitals to post the cost of their services online. Some argue this will allow people to shop around to get the best price on procedures and increase competition between health care providers. Others say that, to most people, the information posted is incomprehensible. WITF’s Brett Sholtis reports on what this new rule means for consumers.

The third annual Women’s March on Pittsburgh will take place downtown Saturday. WESA reporters Virginia Alvino Young and Kathleen J. Davis spoke to The Confluence's Megan Harris ahead of the event about its evolving platform and how calls for inclusivity have been received.

And Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala recently sent a letter to City Council and Mayor Bill Peduto warning that, if challenged, council's recently proposed gun control measures could be deemed unconstitutional. Chris Potter, WESA government and accountability editor, explores what this could mean for the legislation going forward.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators join veteran journalist Kevin Gavin, taking an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.
Julia Zenkevich reports on Allegheny County government for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at
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