I’m doing the Tough Art residency at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh this summer!

I’m thrilled and honored to have been selected to join this summer’s Tough Art cohort at the wonderful Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. It’s a great opportunity to focus on building a piece of interactive installation art, with the support and guidance of Museum staff as well as unfettered access to all of the Museum’s fabrication facilities.

I applied to the residency with the idea that I would be building a sort of an extension and expansion of my Start the Stop piece, which I installed in a bus stop to encourage strangers to interact with each other. You can read about this in detail in my thesis, more particularly about construction/design/fabrication in this section of the document, and observations/outcomes in this section.

In short form, for those of you who for some crazy reason don’t wish to wade through 80 pages of prose, the original Start the Stop was based on a sort of Etch-a-Sketch mechanism: one control knob moves a drawing head left–right and another moves it up–down. The trick of my version of the machine is that these two knobs were at opposite sides of the bus stop—so in order to make a drawing, two people waiting at the stop would have to work together.

Start the Stop installation view Start the Stop installation view

Children’s Museum installation

My plan for Tough Art is to make a bigger, better version of Start the Stop. Its purpose is much the same as the original—to incite positive interactions between strangers—though of course the museum location changes the tenor of the whole piece a bit. (For one, people in the Children’s Museum are primed to engage in some sort of novel interaction, unlike people waiting at a bus stop.) Since I expect people to have a bit more time to linger, should they so choose, I’m hoping they will take a few minutes to explore what it means to draw collaboratively on a large palette. And of course, stranger-interactions aside, I’m excited to give children and parents the chance to engage with each other in a low-risk creative endeavor.

I’m envisioning a piece that’s perhaps 10’×10’ on the wall, with control knobs a few feet off of the wall at either edge of the piece. This is a preliminary idea, and should be considered as a starting point which will be informed and transformed by discussion with Museum staff, experimentation with visitors on the floor, and hopefully a few well-timed bursts of inspiration.

For reference, here’s a diagrammatic drawing included in my Tough Art proposal:

Tough Art application drawing

Stay posted for more updates as I develop the project further over the course of the summer. Very excited to begin this process!