En Pointe began as a way to engage our colleagues and mentors in critical conversations and has grown into a collection of interviews spanning disciplines and geographies, with contributors from across the globe. To encourage a dialogue between our city and beyond, half of the subjects we feature are rooted in Western Pennsylvania. It is fitting, then, that our first print issue, En Pointe Vol. 1: Pittsburgh, is a love letter to the city where we are based. In this first print edition, Vol. 1 takes a broad and critical look at Pittsburgh, with its distinctive history and topography, through conversations that showcase a rich and thoughtful arts ecosystem. En Pointe Vol. 1: Pittsburgh features twelve interviews with architects, curators, artists, writers, and entrepreneurs helping to shape the future of the city’s built and cultural landscape.
The city’s history of innovation and social movements still resonates with many people doing thoughtful work in Pittsburgh. Both Mary Lou Arscott and Gerard Damiani, for example, look towards the historic fabric of Western Pennsylvania to inform their design decisions, whether to rethink the rowhouse or create community spaces in unexpected ways. Mitch McEwen used an imaginative design charrette to envision how reparations could change Pittsburgh, while Anne Chen’s civic work has changed the way people relate to local institutions. On a smaller scale, Seth Clark’s sculpture and collage examines qualities of ruin and fragmentation found throughout the rustbelt.
It takes work to build a healthy, equitable arts ecosystem and economy outside of major cities. Kilolo Luckett looks at the Pittsburgh art scene with hope and frustration, demanding the city to “wake up!” and promote an arts scene that reflects the diversity of the city. Similarly, Casey Droege has begun to build a healthy and sustainable arts ecosystem through community and business partnerships. Museums are important partners in that goal. Two curators, Raymund Ryan and Ingrid Schaffner, look at how institutions might reach new audiences and curate exhibitions that tap into Pittsburgh’s unique resources while inspiring joy in museum visitors.
Other conversations explore cultural icons, from Andy Warhol to Fred Rogers, through new lenses in Pittsburgh. José Carlos Diaz seeks to uncover unknown legacies of one of the biggest names in Pop art, while Paul Zelevansky throws the complex storytelling and teaching of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood into new relief through his book and video work. Nina Barbuto, who runs an interdisciplinary community space for arts and technology, talks about the significance of her work with Vito Acconci as a young architect in forming a new sense of the relationship between art and its audience.
En Pointe celebrates our creative community united by an interest in innovation and social justice through architecture, design, art, culture, and much more. Read the full interviews below, and purchase a print copy of this volume here.
En Pointe Vol. 1 was sponsored by: GBBN and Weisshouse
Peeling Away the Walls: Seth Clark’s Art Builds from Destruction
Sarah Rafson conducts a studio visit with Pittsburgh-based artist Seth Clark.
Like Darning the Elbows of Your Sweater: Mary Lou Arscott seeks an Engaged Design Practice
Mary Lou Arscott tells Kellilaurel Mijares how she makes herself at home in Pittsburgh, as a UK transplant, by practicing community engagement in Pittsburgh’s Polish Hill neighborhood.
Wake up, Pittsburgh! Inclusion in the Arts and Who Inspires Kilolo Luckett
Kilolo Luckett discusses how she works to engage artists and others people of color in the arts community while initiating discussion about art influenced by Black culture
Display Mechanisms: Raymund Ryan Curates Architecture with a Sense of Place
Raymund Ryan, Curator of Architecture at the Carnegie Museum of Art, shares how he developed a keen eye for the built environment.
Transforming Pittsburgh: Anne Chen Designs for the World We Want
PLP talks with GBBN’s Anne Chen about her experience leading the transformation of University of Pittsburgh’s Hillman Library.
Designing for Hungers That Are Already There: A Discussion with Mitch McEwen
Architect Mitch McEwen shares their 2016 project “This Is What We Will Build When We Get Our Reparations,” which took place at Pittsburgh’s City of Asylum.
Asking Questions Beyond Architecture: Nina Barbuto Assembles Art and Technology
Nina Barbuto, founder of Assemble, shares the story of her community space in Pittsburgh’s Garfield neighborhood.
“What is the Point of This?” Paul Zelevansky’s Concern for Conscientious Design on the Page
Kyleen Pickering explores Paul Zelevansky’s book arts and storytelling practice, as well as his website, The Great Blankness.
The Found Condition: Gerard Damiani Designs with Context
Jakob Uhlenhopp interviews Gerard Damiani, director of the architecture firm Studio d’ARC, which reimagines Pittsburgh’s post-industrial and rural landscapes.
From the Worm-Hole to Warhol: The Curatorial Reflections of José Carlos Diaz
Kenneth Wahrenberger explores the practice of José Carlos Diaz, Chief Curator at The Andy Warhol Museum.
Casey Droege: Building a Strong and Sustainable Arts Economy in Pittsburgh
Casey Droege on building a sustainable, curatorial, “art-reprenurial,” and creative practice.
Ingrid Schaffner: Sparking International Joy at the Carnegie Museum of Art
Ingrid Schaffner, curator of the 57th Carnegie International, shares a behind-the-scenes look at the process of putting together the exhibition.
MASTHEAD FOR VOL 1: PITTSBURGH (SPRING 2019)
EDITORS – Sarah Rafson, Illana Curtis
AUTHORS – Aleeza Furman, Adam Kor, KelliLaurel Mijares, Kyleen Pickering, Leah Wulfman, Sarah Grossman, Kenneth Wahrenberger, Ilana Curtis, Jakob Uhlenhopp, Sarah Rafson, Abigail Solomon
GRAPHIC DESIGN (for Print) – Matthew Chrislip