It’s all about ideas.
We are very pleased to announce the completion of The Carrie Deer documentary. We were joined by the project’s supporters and the Core Artists at a recent celebration of the completed film at Pittsburgh Filmmaker’s Melwood Screening Room and thank everyone for coming out to the show.
As Core Artist John Latell states in the film, “It’s all about ideas.” For the artists, their works in the 90s were about friendship, collaboration, process, experimentation and the inspiration of the abandoned industrial spaces of the region. Each work was inspired by a core idea of expression, yet realizing that idea required exploration of the space, processes of construction and methods of overcoming obstacles. Every step of bringing that creative idea to life required more ideas – where to place the sculpture, how to join found materials without electricity, a method for lifting sections of the work stories above ground level. At each point, a new idea sparked the next stage of process, solving problems and moving the project forward to completion. Determination, creativity and collaboration were key to the successful creation of the Carrie Deer.
As Team Leaders for The Carrie Deer Project, we found a similar process evolved for the collective elements of this project. Our core idea of funding the Deer’s restoration through a documentary of its construction required the collaboration of the Core Artists. Over a 3 year span, the generosity of the artists in sharing their stories and personal photographs provided the structure of the film and energized new ideas for a deeper investigation of the inspiration of industrial spaces and the concept of public art. The Sprout Fund also collaborated with the Team in creative ideas for sharing the story of the project through their social media, project mentorship and Unblurred activities.
To provide insights into collaborations with the Carrie Furnaces’ site, Ron Baraff, Director of Museum Collections and Archives for the Rivers of Steel, provided unique perspectives on interactions with the site, parallels of the artists with original site workers, and the potential of present community and artistic connectivity with our region’s industrial heritage.
Exploring the idea of the Deer as a temporary installation turned public artwork, we interviewed Mac Howison, Program Officer for Catalytic Funding and Project Assistance at The Sprout Fund. Mac provided the key idea of “process informing the value of such a now public artwork” that spoke directly to the foundation of this a unique turn of events for the Deer. That statement supported our secondary thread of how ideas, obstacles and problem-solving processes were fundamental to the importance of the interpreting the sculpture.
Metal artist Dee Briggs, whose works are inspired by the scale and materials of these sites, explored the idea of inspiration arising from these industrial ruins. As a present-day parallel, Dee’s works evoke the openness of industrial spaces and highlight the materials in new and fluid ways.
Through our collaboration with the Core Artists, ideas on expanding methods of sharing the Deer’s story were explored. Focusing sign content on the Core Artists experiences solidified the concept of creating permanent interpretive signs for the Deer. Artist’s quotes from their interviews along with images of their works and the processes of creating the sculpture were outgrowths of the collaboration. The resulting permanent signs have been installed on the site and will continue to share the Deer’s story with future generations.
Working with Rivers of Steel throughout the process introduced a new idea for partnership with Alloy Pittsburgh during their artist residencies and installation. Artist in residence Klyla Groat joined the project as instructor for the Salvage Art Workshop that included a docent tour of the site for students and families, sketching and exploration exercises in the Furnaces, and the freedom of creative determination for their own interpretation of the site through found materials.
Kyla’s Alloy Pittsburgh installation focused on the site of the Deer and was completed shortly after the workshop.
Holding an on-site teen art workshop to create large-scale metal salvage sculpture was a new concept for the region. Getting the word out for such a new idea inspired a new collaboration with The Sprout Fund. Through a listing with HIVE Days of Summer we were able to reach more teens seeking new summer activities and joined HIVE’s listing for annual summer workshops.
Sharing the concepts revealed during the documentary’s development spurred the idea of further partnerships with Core Artists and the region’s leading art organizations. Pittsburgh’s Office of Public Art joined the workshop team and Director Renee Piechoki provided an exciting on-site presentation exploring industrial art, creative inspiration and the particular challenges faced by artists creating for the public environment.
Dave English, Outreach Officer of The Sprout Fund and co-founder of The Schmutz Company,presented fresh concepts self-expression and a challenge of exploration through his presentation to the students.
Core Artists Bob Ziller and Tim Kaulen not only lent willing hands for our final session, they offered personal insights on the site’s inspirations, the Deer’s construction, and their present works.
The sculpture is the first permanent artwork to be installed at the Carrie Furnaces site and serves as the initial work in the Carrie Deer Salvage Art Garden.
With the workshop and film completed and interpretive signs and student sculpture installed on site, the final goals of The Carrie Deer Project are in sight. We are presently working on methods of sharing the documentary with the public and raising the funds necessary for restoration of the foundation of the Deer sculpture. We are extremely grateful for the initial response to the documentary by our funders, partners and supporters and are encouraged that the restoration funds will be acquired and public venues developed for the film. As we move through these new ideas, we will continue to provide updates on achieving our final goals.
As one idea led to another, as problems became challenges, and as new partnerships and collaborations developed, The Carrie Deer Project grew into a work greater than its original idea – just as the Deer itself grew from a clandestine sculpture to an iconic public artwork. With each new idea we gained new insights and methods to share the story of the Deer and we hope that the future continues to hold fresh ways to share the inspiring life of this remarkable sculpture.
We extend our deep appreciation to everyone who has made this possible:
George Davis, Liz Hammond, Tim Kaule, John Latell, Joe Small, Tim Yohman and Bob Ziller
Guest interviews: Ron Baraff, Rivers of Steel; Dee Briggs, Dee Briggs Studio; and Mac Howison, The Sprout Fund
The Carrie Deer Project – The Sprout Fund
Carrie Deer Salvage Art Workshop – AWESOME Pittsburgh
Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area
Carrie Deer Salvage Art Workshop:
Kyla Groat, Instructor
Renee Piechocki, Office of Public Art
Dave English, The Sprout Fund
Tim Kaulen, Core Artist
Bob Ziller, Core Artist
And to all the friends of Carrie Deer who helped during its construction and the volunteers and supporters who have continued to ensure both the preservation of the Deer and the Carrie Furnaces – thank you!