The Carrie Deer Documentary

Carrie Deer PosterThe Carrie Deer:

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:

Core Artists:

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

Our funders:

The Carrie Deer Project – The Sprout Fund

Carrie Deer Salvage Art Workshop – AWESOME Pittsburgh

Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area

Glyph, Inc.

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!

 

 

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Tim Kaulen Interview

Tim Kaulen Interview

“If you put something out into the world you have to expect interaction. Once recognized, it is exposed and available. You have to accept the potentials fates that may befall such a work,” commented Tim Kaulen, Core Artist of the Carrie Deer.

In the early 90s, Tim’s artworks began to appear in unlikely places around Pittsburgh: Bull on the Birmingham Bridge, the reclaimed advertising work Gas Girl on a defunct auto-service building and Dove on a chain link fence.

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Dee Briggs Interview

Dee Briggs Interview


We caught up with Dee Briggs at her Wilkinsburg’s studio for a conversation about public art in Pittsburgh. Entering the 100 year old fire station studio is an introduction to the size and scale of Dee’s work that requires open spaces, light and lots and lots of storage for raw materials. She has been renovating the building to accommodate the various activities required to produce her works, teach in the schools of art and architecture at Carnegie Mellon University, serve on the Pittsburgh Art Commission, complete national exhibition and commission works – all while shuttling between New York and Pittsburgh.

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Joe Small Interview

Joe Small Interview

What is the connection between a scuba diver on the Monongahela River, a family being abducted by aliens, a man-eating arthropod, and the kidnapping of a giant simian? Joe Small, Owner of Advantar, and a Core Artist of the Carrie Deer, had the answer to that question: the early efforts of the Industrial Arts Co-op (IAC) artists. Joe provided a glimpse into the varied and wonderfully energetic whirlwind that spun out these early guerilla art installations in Pittsburgh.

 

 

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George Davis Interview

George Davis Interview

Core Artist George Davis first encountered the abandoned mill sites of Pittsburgh while studying photography and multimedia at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and film history at the University of Pittsburgh. With an eye for eclectic photographic opportunities, George visited the many sites along Pittsburgh’s rivers and beyond as self-touring photography sessions. Along with a group of like-minded friends that began the Industrial Arts Co-Op, he was mesmerized by these industrial ruins, the stark beauty of their decaying structures and the tenacity of nature in reclaiming the sites.

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Liz Hammond Interview

Liz Hammond Interview

At the age of 19, Liz Hammond moved from her Michigan home to adventurous urban art landscape of Pittsburgh. Settling into the vibrant 1990s South Side art community, she found a welcoming environment in which to broaden her installations of guerilla sculptures on fences and slices of abandoned lots.

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Mac Howison Interview

Mac Howison Interview

Mac Howison, Program Officer for Catalytic Funding and Project Assistance at The Sprout Fund, has unique insight into the value of public art in our communities and city as well as a profound understanding of the power of such works in transforming languishing urban areas through individual participation in the public art process. He shared some of his views of such urban frontiers for artist and resident involvement during our interviews.

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Bob Ziller Interview

Bob Ziller Interview

Bob Ziller hosted our crew at Awesome Books on Liberty Avenue for a cozy chat about the early days of the Carrie Deer. He and co-owner Laura Jean McLaughlin, manage both the downtown store and the feline-friendly Garfield location which might make you wonder how he can find the time for his many other artistic projects.  An artist, poet, singer, translator, filmmaker and publisher  – Bob has participated in over 80 exhibitions from the Andy Warhol Museum to the Chicago Cultural Center to the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York.

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