Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh

Supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh is a consortium of local museums, galleries and archives working together to share information and expertise, and foster collaboration in research, teaching, and public engagement.

Here, at the HAA Constellations blog, you can read about some of the outcomes of these partnerships. Learn more about Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh at https://haa.pitt.edu/ckp.

 

Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh

  • Nancy Mosser and I at the casting audition room in Mosser Casting studio

     

    Delving into the Pittsburgh Film Industry and History

    Museum Studies Intern at Senator John Heinz History Center - Spring 2018

    As a Museum Studies intern at Senator John Heinz History Center for Spring 2018, I have had the opportunity to work under curators Leslie Przybylek and Lauren Uhl, helping them document Pittsburgh’s significant ties to commercial film production. During my internship, I looked through newspaper articles about films I was interested in knowing more about. I also interviewed people in the industry and did research on the museum’s collection for an eventual exhibit on Pittsburgh’s role in film.

    I first researched Fences (2016), a film based on the play by Pittsburgh playwright August Wilson. The film follows the lives of the Maxon family in the 1950s Hill District neighborhood. One of the people that we interviewed was my cousin Greg Weimerskirch, an art director in the film industry locally. He showed us how he designs each environment for the camera. For Fences he had to recreate what the Hill District looked like in the 1950s, from the street signs to the kind of garbage truck used, to how the houses looked at that time. It was amazing to witness the level of detail that goes into being an art director and how Greg uses both digital and physical modeling to create an impression of setting in the film.

    Other films that I have examined closely in my internship were Striking Distance (1993), Sudden Death (1995), and Inspector Gadget (1999). I searched through newspapers to find articles on how each of the movies was received when it was in theatres, as well as production information pertaining to the who, when, where and how they were produced. I then searched for film crewmembers and technicians to contact who worked on these films.

    Some of my leads did not meet with success, but one lead for Sudden Death led me to interviewing Nancy Mosser, who runs the Mosser Casting studio in Lawrenceville, Pittsburgh. Nancy casts extras and actors for films, television, and commercials. This is unique because most casting agencies only cast either extras or actors, not both. She got her start by working as a Production Assistant for Channel 11 news and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. She then struck out on her own to become a casting director. Nancy told us about the ease of casting today, compared to when she started out, thanks to the increased use of technology.

    Overall, this internship has blended my passios of Pittsburgh history and film. I have more understanding about what it takes to envision and work on a film. This was revealed to me by using digital archival material, tracking down and interviewing contacts, and critically thinking about the interconnection between people and movies and objects.

    Learn more about the Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh initiative here

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    Every photo is measured, scanned, and described into the spreadsheet to be archived which will be digitized online for outreach to veteran’s relatives and public research.

     

    Rediscovering the Past Through the Former North Side McKeever Post 623

    Author: Geoffrey Mansfield

    Museum Studies Intern at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum - Spring 2018

    The closing of the Mckeever Post 623 on Western Avenue, North Side of Pittsburgh unfortunately resonates with the fate of other VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) posts in the region. Only open one day a week, its closing was heartfelt to the members. Originally established on February 3, 1921, as the 623rd such post in the country, it served veterans who recently returned from the First World War. In January 2014, the increasingly dilapidated building was purchased, at the same time as a trove of artifacts on the property was discovered, including uniforms, flags and photos.

    The Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum was contacted to gather information of its contents. Curator Michael Kraus took a trip to the former post to discover the past stories of the veterans who once frequented the establishment. What he found was three 4-by-4 poster boards containing over two-hundred photos. The boards were originally mounted to the outside of Lawrence's Barber Shop on the North Side. The photos were of the former members, all approximately World War Two era. The subjects of the photographs ranged from men standing in front of the baber shop ,to the battlefields of France, and everything in between. These photos were then donated to the Museum in 2014 to be used to retell the stories of the forgotten. The Museum created a plan to digitize an online archive of these materials for outreach to the relatives and the public in honor for those who served our nation.

    During my Spring 2018 internship I accepted the challenge of this task as a semester project at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum. The task proved to be extensive and time-consuming, though it brought me a sense of pride. Every one of the 245 photos had to be digitally scanned, front and back, and names of the soldiers written in cursive handwriting had to be deciphered.

    I created a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel that tracked every attribute of the photos with fifteen columns including any individual’s name, measurements, condition, and descriptions. During the process, I started to research the names written on the back, finding more about the individuals that I was documenting. Their stories slowly emerged, building a larger narrative of their overseas war campaigns.

    One example was the Murphy brothers: eight men had joined the armed forces and served in World War II during the call of duty. Unfortunately, Tom Murphy paid the ultimate sacrifice, as he was killed during the Battle of the Bulge. The attached gold star on the front of the photo confirmed this. Photos of four other Murphy brothers also emerged through the archival process, including Dan Murphy, a Hall of Valor Inductee at the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum.

    This project granted me the opportunity to retell the forgotten stories of World War II veterans and the Northside Post 623 as a way of honoring their service. The assembly of this data, along with the scanning process through digitization, will allow for outreach helping relatives reconnect with their loved ones from the past. It also serves as a form of research for the public. The photos help historians represent forgotten stories by recovering a visual aspect to the documentation of veterans who served our country, and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for us, those like Tom Murphy.

    Learn more about the Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh initiative here

    Categories: 
    • Academic Interns
    • Undergraduate Work
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    A typical day of research at my desk in The Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

     

    Making Egyptian History Accessible to the Public

    Museum Studies Intern at The Carnegie Museum of Natural History – Spring 2018

    A much-anticipated facelift is coming to the Walton Hall in The Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

    As an anthropology undergraduate student interested in archaeology, I was excited to have the opportunity to be a part of the redesign of this popular exhibit for my spring 2018 internship. The Carnegie Boat, one of four ancient Eygptian boats remaining in the world, will be the centerpiece of the redesign. Much of my time at the internship was spent scouring scholarly journals for information and research relating to the use of the boat in the funerary procession of Senwosret III, a pharaoh of Egypt.  

    Coming from the anthropological discipline which involves dense research full of niche terminology, I wanted it to be a focus of my work to make this information more accessible to a wider audience.

    My supervisor, Dr. Erin Peters, the Assistant Curator of Science and Research at the Museum, invited me to sit in on weekly meetings with other faculty on the Egypt on the Nile exhibition team. In these meetings I worked with Dr. Peters, Becca Shreckengast, the Director of Exhibition Experience, and Caroline Record, a Creative Technologist at the Innovation Studio, and we discussed ways of creating a more concise, accessible exhibition plan. These weekly meetings opened my eyes to the amount of work that goes into planning a new exhibit. I also saw how my research on the Carnegie Boat will be reaching a wider audience. Through these meetings, and based on audience evaluation surveys collected by last semester’s interns, it is clear that some sort of digital component will be incorporated into the new exhibit.

    Although it is still in the early stages of the planning of the exhibition, it has been very rewarding to see how my rough-cut, and research-dense information on the Boat will be transformed into a neatly packed, and engaging experience for visitors.

    Learn more about the Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh initiative here

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    Teaching the Anthropocene: Student Responses to We are Nature

    Author: Kaitlyn Haynal Allen

    PhD candidate in Comunication and Consuming Nature workshop participant

    The Consuming Nature workshop exposed participants to the multitude of endlessly fascinating local resources of visual and material culture for learning about the presence of human influence across Pittsburgh landscapes. These resources have transformed not only my research, from which I now draw upon dozens of primary sources discovered through my participation in this workshop, but have radically transformed my teaching as well. Over the past year, consideration for place and environment has become significantly influential to my pedagogy of teaching and learning, and I have incorporated making use of these resources into my class instruction and assignments a primary objective.

    On a typically cold and rainy Pittsburgh day in February, my two Argument classes were asked to visit and explore the Carnegie Museum of Art and Museum of Natural History, and select an artifact or exhibit for their critical consideration in an upcoming paper. They were given as much time as needed to wander through the expansive museum spaces and consider what artifacts drew their attention. In selecting the object(s) of their case study, students were asked to reflect on various questions: What are museums? What purpose do they serve? How and what do their exhibits communicate? Museum spaces shape public frames of the subject matter they collect and include in display, just as they shape public perception of what is excluded from their space.

    The most discussed exhibit was the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s We are Nature: Living in the Anthropocene. The introduction to the exhibit identifies that “our collections and research tell various stories of the human impact” on the environment, revealing “hard truths, inspiration, and human ingenuity in the face of the Anthropocene.” Students identified various themes present in communicating what the Anthropocene is and why it matters.

    The dilemma of how a museum exhibit can effectively communicate to its various publics was a matter of great interest to several students. Taylor Jones, a junior Communication and English Literature major, argues that the exhibit “serves as a case study by which to examine notions of human-environment interconnectivity and cultural validity.” She ultimately concludes that, “We are Nature builds a sense of cultural validity through the popularization of climate change discourse and concepts, prioritizing ecological citizenship and environmental politics, and motivating children to carry on the legacy of working to mitigate the effects of climate change.”

    Gabby Mineroff, a sophomore Media and Professional Communication major, considers the work museums put into targeting visitors who are children. Gabby ultimately argues that “when a child engages in a creative space they are passively parking in the ideology of the museum. For the Carnegie Museum’s Future Thinking Lab, the ideology of saving the environment is transmitted to the children when they partake in the activity.” The various publics that the museum seeks to reach in their exhibition of We are Nature were revealed to be diverse and varied. Another student examines the exhibit through the lens of ecofeminism and ecomaternalism, in order to demonstrate how the use of masculine colors and design features might encourage men to take action against environmental degradation.

    To some students, the exhibit left possibilities of greater potential yet to be tapped. Johnny Yetter, a senior Chemistry major, focused on the Great Barrier Reef Funeral. In reflecting on his experience with the museum, he observes that “when I visited the We are Nature exhibit I expected to learn about my role in climate change and leave with a sense of urgency to do my part to help the environment; however, I left feeling under-informed and unsure of what steps, if any, I could take in order to become an environmental activist.” This was a prevalent concern among several students interested in better understanding: what would it take to get people to change their actions related to environmental action? Yetter concludes that while “the message was very information [sp] and could have helped any museum goer learn about this topic […] none of the words chosen induced urgency or hope, instead created a tone that was sad and hopeless.”

    Overall the students shared the insight that human impact on the environment was a matter of significant concern that is worthy of public attention. Max Carter, a senior Psychology major, examined a component of the exhibit called the Overview Effect. One of the final observation points for visitors who walk through We are Nature from start to finish, the Overview Effect sums up the experience of the exhibit. “After viewing how air pollution has changed the color of moths from white to black, then back to white again; viewing the ridiculous amount of plastic we have put into the ocean; the list of animals we have made extinct as well as a handful that will soon become extinct; after a funeral service for one of the most unique natural sites in the world, the Great Barrier Reef, you reach a few dark benches and a large projector screen […] As you stare at the large blue patch that is the Atlantic Ocean, you think back to display noting how much plastic we’ve dumped there. You see the green land masses without any borders or lines and suddenly a lot of things feel less important. […] I found myself sitting there, suddenly disgusted by how we were treating both our planet and each other.”

    Learn more about the Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh initiative here

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    Becoming Migrant... what moves you?

    Author: Edith Doron

    Nexus Senior Program Manager, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh

    “If it is impossible to stop an electron, what’s the point in building fences against flocks of birds?”

    --Agrupatión Señor Serrano

    Migration is arguably one of the most astounding phenomena in all of natural history. It names a very particular kind of movement: profound in its impact to the one doing the moving, to the environment to which they arrive, and to the one they left behind. And by ‘environment’ we include everything from the chemical to the political. Carnegie Nexus—the cross-museum initiative launched in 2015 as part of a post-doc fellowship sponsored by the ACLS (American Council of Learned Societies) —is about to deliver its second public program series entitled Becoming Migrant, on the art and science of passage. I am often asked how we decided to commit to this topic and what makes up the process of curating such a series. There isn’t one tap root that holds the answer to the source of our decision. Having come off the success of our first pilot series, Strange Times -earth in the age of the human, many conversations around the climate crisis pointed to a deeper crisis that pervades the study of the Anthropocene: a crisis of humanity.

    We understood that what is termed the ‘refugee crisis’ is not a temporary situation or peak in displacement but marks a new, long-term trend. We were interested in its complex causes, a kind of cascade of failure and, in Slavoj Zizek’s assessment, “the price we have paid for a globalized economy in which commodities—but not people—are permitted to circulate freely.” Human migration will be a defining issue of, at least, the next century. Environmental change plays a significant role in this displacement. But the ecological devastation has historically been paired with a (political) economic one. This profound movement is the result of life-threatening instability, food scarcity, persecution, and ethnic and religious conflicts characterized by extreme violence in precisely those territories that the empires of the 17th – 19th centuries colonized. What they left behind were nominally sovereign states— ‘fragile’ or ‘failed’ states. As far as our ‘developed’ world, the responses to the waves of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are heated, reactionary and polemic—and interestingly, strikingly similar in pattern to the climate crisis: denial, anger, depression, bargaining, helplessness.  So, in this sense, Becoming Migrant was a ‘natural’ follow-up to Strange Times. What’s more the ‘stranger’ in Strange Times is all the more incarnate in this new series as we ask ourselves: what is our obligation to the stranger? Or, when confronted with the decision to stay or go, what would you do? What do birds, insects, fish, mammals do? How do they do it? What can their migrations tell us of ours?

    And this has directly shaped some of the programming including Atlantic Currents- winds, waters and migrations, on April 19. This event will bring together in dialogue celebrated climate change scientist Michael Mann, with Marcus Rediker, activist and prolific historian of the Atlantic slave trade, and John Wenzel, ecologist and Director of the Powdermill Nature Reserve, home to the longest standing migratory bird-banding site in the US. We have partnered again with CMU’s International Film Festival to bring Mali Blues, a film on the exile of music to the museum theatre. And we have built new partnerships with the City of Asylum and the Center for African-American Poetry and Poetics to bring you exiled writer-in-residence, Israel Centeno and recent Whiting award winner Rickey Laurentiis to the museum of natural history—where they will be surrounded by dioramas of mammals for which migration is essential to survival and species’ evolution. And it is the awesome wonder that comes with contemplating natural migration that helped us find our culminating event. On April 26 and 27 at the New Hazlett, we are hosting the US premiere of Birdie by the Barcelona-based collective, Agrupatión Señor Serrano. Birdie manages to actually perform a migration onstage—one between two worlds connected by an unstoppable movement. Get ready to merge Hitchcock’s The Birds with an 18-hole links course on a Spanish island off the coast of Africa.

    Perhaps it was the very nature of the initiative led us to this choice of study. While Carnegie Nexus is not a program in exile, it is migratory: it has no rooted home/museum or exhibition space or collections in its possession. It is a community however—in the deep sense of that term. The fellows that compose its direction understand that we are nomadic or rhizomatic in essence, and that we hope to find hospitality in our future endeavors. That brings me to a key driver that shaped our curation of this series: the custom, the philosophy, the ancient virtue of hospitality. At its core, it draws a border between host and guest, inside and out, self and other, citizen and stranger. And so, migration could only be understood as fundamental to the human condition. We are, if nothing else, migrants of time: marked by our border passages and those of others. We are the sum of our encounters; refugees of our transformations.

    I would like to thank with my whole “heart, liver and lungs”, as my mother used to say, the motley tribe of nine who make up Becoming Migrant: co-producer, Ben Harrison, of the Andy Warhol Museum, Steve Tonsor and Pat McShea of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Divya Heffley and Lulu Lippincott of the Carnegie Museum of Art, Desi Gonzalez and Amber Quick of the Andy Warhol Museum, and Charlie Legere of the department of Advancement and Community Engagement. There are many others both inside and outside the museums who are the condition of our possibility. The public is part of that—join us in April, and don’t be a stranger.

    Learn more about the Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh initiative here

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    Version one of Mariko, Station 20

     

    Exploring Tōkaidō Road through Japanese Woodblock Prints

    Authors: Zoe Creamer and Alec Story

    Museum Studies Intern at Special Collections, University Library System - Spring 2018 and Special Topics: Museum Studies student - Spring 2018

    On March 31 2018, the Carnegie Museum of Art opened Hiroshige’s Tōkaidō Road to the public. It is the museum’s first exhibition of the Hōeidō edition of the Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō in 25 years. This frequently-requested series of Japanese prints was introduced with ample information and enthusiasm during an opening lecture given by University of Pittsburgh professor and Japan Studies Coordinator Brenda Jordan, titled “A City of Consumption: The Woodblock Print Industry in Edo, Japan.” In her lecture, Dr. Jordan discussed the collaborative process of woodblock printmaking, as well as the timeless nature of Hiroshige’s Tōkaidō Road series.

    Just like any other Japanese woodblock print series, The Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō required the collaboration of several skilled craftsmen in order to create a finalized print. This process began with the designer of the original image, who is usually the most well-known of the collaborators, drawing the intended design onto paper. After the designer is the woodblock carver, whose role is to whittle the base of a wooden block according to the drawn image; and then the printer, who inks the woodblocks and presses the prints. Finally, there were others who financially supported and distributed the works. In Utagawa Hiroshige’s case, the finished works were sold along the Tōkaidō road to collectors and travelers alike, either as souvenirs or as fine art to be displayed in one’s home.

    The Hōeidō edition was so immensely popular in its time that while many contemporary series produced around 8,000 copies, Hiroshige’s Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō was printed a staggering 20,000 times. This popularity was largely due to the timeless aesthetic of landscape prints compared to contemporary prints of popular subjects, such as those depicting courtesans or actors.

    When entering into the Hiroshige exhibit itself, visitors are invited “to follow in the footsteps of a 19th century traveler” and “proceed from Edo to Kyoto.” On the gallery walls are the Tōkaidō road prints themselves, some of which are duplicates that might easily be overlooked. Though woodblock prints are usually all printed from the same blocks, each print is unique due to variations in color, brightness, and quality from one printing to the next. One such print, the 20th station of the Tōkaidō, Mariko, is riddled with differences between prints. Immediately apparent is the difference in color between the two on display, but upon closer inspection, there is a spelling mistake corrected in the later printings; 丸子(Maruko) became 鞠子 (Mariko). The subject of the 20th station print is a Mariko teahouse known for its tororo jiru, a yam paste, for which the establishment remains famous to this day. The teahouse, or ochaya, also offered female entertainers, known as geisha, who, according to Japanese folk music, made it a necessary stop for traveling men. Looking to the background of the print, there stands the “Fuji of Mariko,” which references an aspect of Japan’s shared cultural knowledge that Hiroshige did not hesitate to draw upon throughout many of his works.

    The gallery also includes many elements other than the prints themselves allowing visitors to interact with and appreciate the culture of Japan. A 19th century-style board game set in the middle of the gallery attracts the attention of wanderers from the path (such as ourselves). Players can roll a die and advance along spaces that represent stops along the Tōkaidō Road in the style of Monopoly. Some spaces even listed happenings, such as delays crossing a river, adding a fun interactive element to the show which no doubt will interest many younger visitors to the exhibition. In addition to the game are two carved woodblocks, akin to those used in the printmaking process, open for visitors to touch. This tactile element offers a tangible peek into the creation of a woodblock print, as well as making the exhibit more accessible for those who are not sighted.

    Japanese woodblock prints are among the most recognizable works of art, yet the history of this medium is not often told. Our experiences in talking with Akemi May, curator of the exhibition, and listening to Dr. Jordan’s lecture, educated us in the printmaking process as well as printmaking’s historical context, enabling us to appreciate these prints for far more than just their aesthetic qualities.

    We encourage everyone, young or old, to venture into the world of Japanese printmaking by exploring the exhibit before it closes on July 22!

    Learn more about the Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh initiative here

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  • Proposed flyer for the LGBTQ Youth Prom

     

    LGBTQ Legacy at The Andy Warhol Museum

    Museum Studies Intern at The Andy Warhol Museum - Spring 2018

    Campbell’s Soup. Crazy Hair. Artistic Icon. These were the things I knew about Andy Warhol.

    However, before my Museum Studies internship at The Andy Warhol Museum, I didn’t know much about his role in gay culture. However, after working in the Education department with Shannon Thompson, I have a better understanding the importance and legacy of Warhol and his art.

    For my internship, I was tasked with helping the Prom Planning committee held every third Thursday. During these meetings, LGBTQ+ teens from all over Western Pennsylvania came to plan their alternative prom at their respective schools. At the first meeting that I was a part of, I kept seeing all different kinds of teens coming through the doors: individuals of all colors, sizes, labels, and orientations. I was in charge of facilitating the flyer subcommittee. In this subcommittee, I was able to have more intimate conversations with the teens and get to know them. After speaking with a student about what this Prom means to them, they said: “Prom is essential to any high school kid’s experience. For us, we can’t necessarily be ourselves at every school’s prom. This prom allows us to be ourselves and have the most fun we can.”

    There is no single reason why Andy Warhol is remains a cultural icon; there are many. For teens and adults living an LGBTQ+ life, he can resonate with many. During his lifetime, Warhol was a pioneer for gay rights in that he was an openly gay artist. He paved the way for future artists to do the same, and allowed LGBTQ+ people an outlet in the popular culture.

    Today, at The Andy Warhol Museum, they are using these messages and meanings around Warhol’s life to help LGBTQ+ teens in the Pittsburgh Area. With programs like the LGBTQ+ Prom, teens from across the Pittsburgh Area can look to this museum as a safe space to be themselves. I know Warhol would be proud if he saw what his legacy means to all these teens and to others across the globe.

    Learn more about the Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh initiative here

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  • Clay Image

    Kiyoshi Saitō: Clay Image, c. 1952 (detail)

     

    The Walls Have Eyes…or do they? Interning at Hillman Library’s Special Collections Department

    Museum Studies Intern at the University Library System (Hillman Library’s Special Collections) - Spring 2018

    In my adventures as an intern in Hillman Library’s Special Collections Department this spring of 2018, I’ve been taking inventory of the many oversized prints of the Walter and Martha Leuba collection. The thousands of prints in this collection are as varied as the origins of the artists who created them, spanning continents and centuries, but this collection is not yet available for patrons to browse. I am helping in the eventual digitizing of this content, which is now housed in various boxes and portfolios; the end goal is the creation of a searchable online catalogue. My personal interest lies in the prints by Japanese artists, which I devoted time to researching to improve upon existing database information. Most of these Japanese works were woodblock prints produced in the mid-twentieth century. This work pictured above, however, titled Clay Image, shows that woodblock printing isn’t a strictly old-fashioned medium; although it’s associated almost exclusively with ancient to 19th century East Asia, woodblock printmaking has continued into the present day.

    From a distance, this piece by Kiyoshi Saitō (1907-1997) looks like an abstract representation of people, but having looked through other instances of his work in Special Collections, I noticed this would not fit with Saitō’s style of Japanese traditional objects and landscapes rendered with a modern twist. I was perplexed as to why this piece was titled Clay Image, and initially decided that perhaps it was a two-dimensional representation of sculpture. When I came back to the print and looked closer, I realized that I had seen something like these “people” before. Suddenly I saw that these were not meant to be abstract people, but rather haniwa, which I had encountered in an Intro to Asian Art class a year ago here at Pitt. Haniwa means “clay circle” in Japanese, and as the name suggests, these objects are hollow figures made from terracotta clay buried in gravesites in Japan during the Yamato period, which was around the 3rd to 8th century C.E. These figures are thought to have served as a surrogate for live guardians to scare away malevolent spirits and tomb raiders. Haniwa are often very intricate and can take forms of warriors and priestesses as well as animals, such as horses.

    Saitō’s representation of haniwa contrasts strikingly with the landscapes that make up much of his body of work housed in Special Collections, and had there not been Japanese characters written onto the print, I may have almost mistaken this for a representation of African sculpture. It’s interesting and unusual to see such ancient objects as haniwa depicted over a millennium later, but with a printmaking technique that is reminiscent of a bygone era. Clay Image embodies a connection between the past and present that encapsulates Japanese culture in a way accessible to anyone from a modern audience who is informed in ancient history, to the student (such as myself) with an interest in Japanese art, as well as casual museum-goers, who would no doubt enjoy seeing this print on the wall of a museum or even decorating a home.

    This just goes to show that there is always something to take away from an introductory class—I never dreamed I would see haniwa again, let alone in a modern representation such as Clay Image. Haniwa were meant to act as guardians for the dead, but would you want these eyeless faces watching over you in your everyday life? These printed haniwa have been sitting in a drawer for so long that they would probably jump at the opportunity.

    Explore the exhibition here

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  • Dorothy Riggle and friends at WASP training in the 1940s.

     

    Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall: The Path to My Future from the Past

    Museum Studies Intern at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum - Spring 2018

    History has a way of being a very impersonal subject, concerned with dates and key figures. However, once I started interning at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum, I began to understand how personal history can be, as I uncovered people’s stories and the lives they lived.

    Working at this museum, I was able to work on a variety of tasks. I helped prepare the museum for events, collected artifacts from donors, and catalogued artifacts into an updated system. The task that struck me the most was being able to analyze the artifacts that came in. Besides cataloguing them, I learned more importantly about the owner’s life and their experiences.

    One of the most interesting people I researched was a woman named Dorothy Riggle. She joined the military during WWII and decided to pursue a career in this sector. Unfortunately she suffered a nervous breakdown, due to stress and overwork, and was discharged. She spent the rest of her life trying to gain recognition for her struggles while highlighting the harassment she suffered while in the military. Reading over her countless letters to senators, congressmen, and even the U.S. Vice President, I was able to gain so much information about her life and her struggles. She kept such a vigorous record of her life, from her days at the university and into her elderly years, allowing me to examine every element of her life. When I was finished reading and looking at the artifacts, it almost felt as if she was a friend.

    After analyzing all of her artifacts, I wrote a biography on her life for the museum which they hope to post online. Riggle is a relatively unknown figure, yet her story is just as rich as any significant person’s in history. By interning at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum, I was able to uncover a life that is pertinent to today’s fight for marginalized individuals. Her challenges in the military around gender discrimination and mental illness during the 1940s and 1950s are topics often left undiscussed, and I am proud that her story will be told one day.

    Learn more about the Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh initiative here

  • Artist William Accorsi exhibiting his toy sculptures at The Store.

     

    A Look into the Past: Research on Craft Artists from the 70s in Pittsburgh

    Museum Studies Intern at Contemporary Craft – Spring 2018

    When I first heard about an opportunity interning at Contemporary Craft, I was super excited because I had volunteered there in the past (and knew this would be a great line to add to my resume).

    Contemporary Craft is a nonprofit gallery in the Strip District of Pittsburgh. Part gallery, part store, they also have workshops in the basement where community members are welcome to take classes or even rent out a space and make art. Once I met my supervisor, Stephanie Sun, I was given a quick tour and introduced to the scrapbooks.

    My purpose was to research the gallery’s founder, Betty Raphael, and the artists who had held exhibitions at her former art gallery also known as The Store for Arts and Crafts and People-Made Things. The story of this pioneering gallery is conveyed through scrapbooks Raphael made for a period of 7 years. I was given access to tell the story of The Store through the scrapbooks’ many artifacts -- newspaper clippings, photographs, letters, advertisements, and event flyers.

    Betty Raphael was a trailblazer. She introduced the city of Pittsburgh to modern art in the 1940s, and then again in the 1970s and early 1980s. At first some rejected her. But hundreds of artists have passed through her gallery, both amateur, local, and internationally recognized. Reading through the names of the artists she supported, certain ones stood out—such as Alexander Calder, Paul Klee, and Wendell Castle.

    Before taking on this internship and starting my research I was unaware of this amazing woman and the work she did for the crafts movement. It’s been an enormous pleasure to read about all of her achievements and learning about all the artists who have passed through The Store. I’ve been able to learn about artists I had never heard of before but who have made a name for themselves in their particular field and continue to make art.

    Towards the end of my internship I compiled all of my research into a SCALAR storybook. The SCALAR storybook is an interactive online book that anyone can look through and where people can read more about the artists who came through The Store and contributed to this incredible movement. With my portion of the research done, I happily pass the torch to the next person who will continue sharing the story of Betty.

    Explore Emily’s SCALAR storybook project here

    Learn more about the Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh initiative here

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