To accompany the eight new artworks created for the Art in Parks program, the City of Pittsburgh commissioned five locally-based storytellers to document and expand the narrative created by the new public art installations.
These storytellers were selected for their ability to pivot who tells the story of public art and how we center that experience in our community. The narratives they have crafted respond to the work being done by the artists, placed within the context of each park's community, past and future.
Learn more about each storyteller and experience the work they've created below!
Highland Park - Alyssa Velazquez
Alyssa Velazquez is a writer and cultural historian specializing in the material culture of gender, performance, and women’s studies. She lives and works in Pittsburgh. See more of her work here.
Inspired by The Urban Conga’s socially interactive designs and open-ended play methodology, The Highland Park Zine is a bricolage of photocopies, flyers, newspaper clippings, surveys, postcards, and maps. Page by page choose your own adventure, learning more about the artists working in Highland Park and lingering on the words and images from Highland Park, East Liberty, and Morningside community members past and present.
Flip through The Highland Park Zine by Alyssa Velazquez below or at this link:
Schenley Park - Sakena Washington
Sakena Washington is a creative nonfiction writer from Pittsburgh, PA. She writes memoir and personal essays using anecdotes, memory, and research. Her work explores her own life experiences to draw insight on the human condition.
Sakena produced two narrative essays that weave the artists' process with her personal experiences and memories of parks and campgrounds throughout the region. The themes in her two essays range from mindfulness to climate action and how nature serves to remind us how each of those play an important role in our wellness.
Read Sakena Washington's essays here:
Emerald View Park - Sandra Bacchi
Sandra Bacchi is a Brazilian-American visual artist based in Pittsburgh, PA. She blends photography, video, and glass to tell her stories, weaving fiction into the truths to express more open-ended storytelling. Sandra's focus is to inquire about how human beings interact with each other and how we can find similarities among ourselves. See more of Sandra's work here.
Bacchi's short documentary, The Art at Emerald View Park, investigates different perspectives on the installation of the two new commissioned art pieces created by OOA Design and Ali Rufrano-Ruffner and Gwen Sadler. The narrative connects the park’s history, its community, and the artists as if there were an invisible thread that weaves its way throughout the story.
Sandra Bacchi's documentary, The Art at Emerald View Park is available to watch below!
The Art at Emerald View Park
Riverview Park - Mark Kramer
Mark Kramer is a narrative nonfiction writer, teacher, and leader in experiential learning. He’s currently exploring the ways in which humans work, play, and learn in nature and in the wilderness of everyday life. Mark is also training to be a PA Master Naturalist. Learn more about Mark's work here.
Mark’s personal essay explores the ecosystem of Riverview Park, where white-tailed deer, snake worms, and invasive plant species have decimated native plant growth and caused significant erosion, infrastructure degradation, and other problems. With Riverview’s species populations so unbalanced, Mark's work challenges us to address these concerns head-on.
Read Mark Kramer's essay here:
Frick Park - Sophia Fang
Sophia Fang is a queer, Chinese-American artist who builds community vibrancy in Pittsburgh and Seattle. Her art combines whimsy and community joy to celebrate small business entrepreneurship, immigrant placemaking, and hyperlocal treasures. See more of Sophia's work here.
Sophia has painted a series of watercolor and gouache paintings exploring one of Pittsburgh's crown gems, Frick Park, and the sculpture created there by Matthew Geller. The series explores Frick Park as a magical, storied ground for shared community-building and gathering.
Sophia Fang's illustration series, What The Frick!, can be seen here: