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Outdoor-multimedia art exhibit "Black Lives in Focus" to be displayed at Pitt-Greensburg

Pamela Cooper's At PeaceThe University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg will host a traveling outdoor-multimedia art exhibit entitled “Black Lives in Focus.” The artwork will be displayed from Monday, March 28, through Friday, April 1, along the walkway outside of Chambers Hall.

The initiative is sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, with support from the Center for Creativity. It is intended to inspire participants to reflect on the value of Black lives and the voices of people of color in the Pitt community. Twenty-one panels of art and 10 panels of text are part of the display that showcases the work of 17 artists that range from young, emerging creators to long-established Black artists. The artwork features a variety of styles, including ceramics, video, painting, drawing, quilt making, and text contributions from community members.

“This is an especially impactful installation that demonstrates the diversity and complexity of the contemporary African American experience in America,” said Robert G. Gregerson, president of Pitt-Greensburg. “We are excited to host the artists’ work on our campus and look forward to the conversations that result as members of the Pitt-Greensburg campus and our community interact with the exhibit.”

Award-winning local artist, Pamela Cooper, has two pieces included in the exhibit. Prior to the exhibit arriving, Cooper will be on campus to give an artist’s talk for Pitt-Greensburg students.

Her 2019 photograph, “At Peace,” features “a young boy at peace and sleeping with his hands narrating a sermon of his own.” Cooper’s artist statement notes, “The Church is supposed to be a place of peace and safety. We as Blacks have struggled with those feelings. In the past, church bombings and massacres have plagued the Black community. Yet, we still pray, believe, and love.”

A second piece entitled, “I Just Wanna Live” (2021) is a pen, ink, and watercolor creation that is a blind contour line portrait of the singer Keedron Bryant. Bryant’s song of the same title resonated with Cooper, providing the inspiration for the composition.

An online gallery displays pieces from the exhibit as well as additional art that centers on Black Lives. The introduction to the online gallery notes, “From the celebration of Black love and beauty to reflections on systemic biases as well as tributes to lives lost, these pieces offer a diverse response to our central question. This exhibition does not presume to speak for all of the Black experience, but rather to highlight some of the voices in our community. The artists and writers represented here were selected from our Pitt and Southwestern Pennsylvania communities.”

The website goes on to note: “The work of a university is to explore rich, complex questions. Black Lives in Focus is a University-wide initiative that offers the opportunity to explore one such question—What do we learn when Black life is in focus?—while amplifying and showcasing Black lives and Black voices.”

Black Lives in Focus is organized by Professor Bria Walker (Pitt’s Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences Department of Theatre Arts) and Dr. Sylvia Rhor Samaniego (University of Pittsburgh Art Gallery), under the leadership of Vice Chancellor Dr. Clyde Wilson Pickett, and with support from the Pitt Center for Creativity, a broad range of University representatives, and Pittsburgh community representatives. The exhibit has spent the past year being displayed at the different campuses in the University of Pittsburgh system.

Publication Date

Wednesday, March 16, 2022 - 09:15