Factory Direct: Pittsburgh

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Edgar Olaineta, Solar Do-(It-Yourself) Nothing Toy. After Charles Eames, 2012, from the Factory Direct: Pittsburgh exhibition.

Factory Direct: Pittsburgh showcases the artwork of 14 established contemporary artists invited to conduct artist residencies in Pittsburgh-based factories.  Factory Direct: Pittsburgh artists worked closely with the management teams and factory workers within their host facilities to plan and execute a new work of art based on the factory’s history, technologies, materials, and/or processes. Factory Direct: Pittsburgh artists are Chakaia Booker, Dee Briggs, Thorsten Brinkmann, Jeanette Doyle, Todd Eberle, Fabrizio Gerbino, Ann Hamilton, William Earl Kofmehl, Ryan McGinness, Mark Neville, Sarah Oppenheimer, Edgar Orlaineta, ORLAN, and Tomoko Sawada.  Dee Briggs, Fabrizio Gerbino, and William Kofmehl are working local artists.  Participating factories include ALCOA, Ansaldo STS USA (formerly Union Switch and Signal), Bayer, Body Media, Calgon Carbon Corporation, Construction Junction, Forms and Surfaces, Heinz, PPG Industries, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, and TAKTL. Pittsburgh has an incredibly rich history in the realm of industry and was the dominant power in steel, bronze, tin, coal, aluminum, food and glass production from the late 19th-century through to the mid-20th-century.  From Andrew Carnegie’s Carnegie Steel Company to H. J. Heinz’s world-famous ketchup, Pittsburgh was the home-base for many of the major industrial giants of America.  Thanks to the region’s innovation and industry, Pittsburgh was one of the wealthiest cities in the world at the beginning of the 20th-century, and many leading cultural institutions and civic organizations, including The Warhol, continue to be the beneficiaries of the trusts and foundations that Pittsburgh’s industrialists left behind.  In Factory Direct: Pittsburgh, artists have been given the unique opportunity to examine the legacy of these industrial giants and work in the many factories that still call Pittsburgh home.  In this second decade of the 21st-century, modern-day Pittsburgh’s industry ranges from major robotics institutes and health care systems to cutting-edge technology facilities and green building initiatives.  Also present are a number of small to medium-sized family-owned businesses with light manufacturing facilities.  The exhibition also celebrates the region’s work force and their commitment to industry and innovation.  Pittsburgh’s strong work ethic has been the foundation for the many industrial milestones achieved here, and it continues to fuel the city’s drive forward in new technologies and innovations.

The Factory Direct exhibition idea first arose in Troy, New York when artist Michael Oatman was looking for a novel way to bring contemporary artists to that historic city in an effort to examine its own industrial past.  After this first successful foray, the next Factory Direct project took place in New Haven, Connecticut in 2005 at the nonprofit Art Space on a larger scale.  Now, The Warhol builds on this tradition and expands the Factory Direct enterprise into a large-scale exhibition to help bring the fields of art and industry even closer.  Participating artists are working in Pittsburgh at their host factory sites for a period ranging from two weeks to two months.

The following participating artists and factory partnerships are:

Chakaia Booker (USA) / Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon  University Dee Briggs (USA) / TAKTL Thorsten Brinkmann (Germany)  Construction Junction Jeanette Doyle (Ireland) / Ansaldo STS USA Fabrizio Gerbino(Italy) / Calgon Carbon Corporation Ann Hamilton (USA) / Bayer and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette William Earl Kofmehl III (USA) / Boyd & Blair: Potato Vodka Ryan McGinness (USA) / Forms+Surfaces Mark Neville (Scotland) Sarah Oppenheimer / PPG Industries Edgar Orlaineta (Mexico) / Alcoa Inc. ORLAN (France) / BodyMedia Tomoko Sawada (Japan) / Heinz Todd Eberle (USA) will photograph all companies, artists and factory workers.

The exhibition will be on view at Guardian Self-Storage, 2839 Liberty Avenue (at 29th street and Liberty Avenue), Strip District.  The exhibition is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Admission donations are welcome.  The exhibition can be accessed via the entrance marked Storage.  Visitor Services personnel will be on hand to offer assistance.

This exhibition is curated by The Warhol’s Director, Eric C. Shiner. Assistant curator Natalie Settles Curatorial assistant Jen Melvin.

Text and image courtesy of The Warhol