Wednesday, September 23, 2015

RECAP // Coffee Date with Rob Voerman

Factory Installed, an exhibition at 500 Sampsonia Way featuring all-new works by artists Lisa Sigal, Bill Smith, Rob Voerman and Marnie Weber, opened on Friday, September 18. On Saturday morning, Dutch artist Rob Voerman met with Mattress Factory members for a hot beverage (courtesy of Zeke's Coffee and Arnold's Tea) and conversation.

Rob Voerman's installation "Faculty" on the fourth floor of the Mattress Factory.
"Faculty," Voerman's installation on the fourth floor of the Mattress Factory, reflects one of Pittsburgh's most famous landmarks, the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning which features unique nationality rooms highlighting different cultures from around the world. Voerman's sculpture resembles what looks to be a fragment of that building with one-way mirrors for windows. One member touched on this aspect, referring to the windows as interrogation glass. She noted how it looks so different from the outside than it does on the inside.

Rob Voerman (right) explaining how he works as an artist.
Constructed out of wood and cardboard, Voerman explained how he's always worked with everyday materials. He went on to explain how he makes a cardboard model first, but always ends up changing things when be begins the building process.

Rob Voerman's installation will be on view through Spring 2016.

Don't miss our next Coffee Date with artist Anne Lindberg on October 17. For more information or to become a member, please visit

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

RECAP // Mini-Factory: MOVEMENT!

MOVEMENT is all around us! We move millions of miles everyday as our planet revolves around the sun in orbit, as our cars take us to school and back, as our eyes explore the birds playing in the trees... Grass and trees sway in the breeze, legs run to catch butterflies, and a soaring baseball can break a window. Mini-Factory looked at many different types of MOVEMENT as we explored Julie Schenkelberg's piece The Color of Temperance: Embodied Energy where objects, once whole, have been broken, bent and intricately arranged to create a new story. These objects express an embodied sense of MOVEMENT, they have been removed from their original context and transformed from their original state.

Next we looked at Garden Installation by Winifred Lutz. What moves in a garden? The grass is swaying in the wind, a bird zooms through the air on his way to the other side of the neighborhood, raindrops drip drip drip from the morning storm. There is MOVEMENT everywhere we look, and so too our eyes move to follow all of this movement. 

Alternatively, Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Dots Mirrored Room provides us tons of fun MOVEMENT as we stumble around each other, moving from dot to dot reminiscent of the game, Twister. We also took time to explore our reflections; surrounded by mirrored walls provide a type of MOVEMENT which goes on forever and ever, infinity.

So why not play some MOVEMENT based games? We took colorful balloons, pumped them up and let them go ... watch how they move! Zig zag, zoom, around and around, up and down! Can we make our bodies move like that? ... you bet. We were moving all over the lobby mimicking our crazy balloons - fun! Next we paired up with our grown-ups and played Sculpture and Clay; one person starts as a lump of clay on the ground, and one person is the sculptor moving the clay into different positions until - viola! - a masterpiece.

Mini-factory is an interactive learning program for children ages 3 - 5 years old and their parents or caregivers. Using contemporary installation art, parents and children will explore new ideas and concepts from the everyday world. Join us at 10 am on September 26th for ZOOM.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

ANNOUNCING // Teen Art Cooperative

The Mattress Factory is gearing up for our first TEEN ART COOPERATIVE program and we want YOU! Applications for the program are now being accepted through September 20.

Following up on the success of our Summer Art Cooperative, we will be continuing with a year-round program, which will allow young artists to be their own curators, event planners, art installers and more. Participants will interact with working artists and organizations to better understand paths for a creative life, planning their own events, and building skills that it can use in the future.

Although we will focus on several visual art skills and workshops, this is not only a studio-based program. The Cooperative will be a diverse learning experience encompassing all sorts of ideas, actions and projects. Expect to hear about everything from dance troupes, to canning foods to screen-printing. We want to make the museum and the North Side of Pittsburgh expansive resources for teens in the same way that they are for visiting artists and members of the community.

The MF's TEEN ART COOPERATIVE is an entirely FREE program. We ask that participating teens commit as best as possible to all Thursday afternoons for the 2015-2016 school year. We will meet every Thursday (excluding holidays) from 4-6pm, starting on October 1, 2015 and continuing to May 2016.

For questions and more information, please email

Thursday, August 20, 2015

RECAP // Coffee Date with Marnie Weber

This past Saturday, MF Members joined Factory Installed artist Marnie Weber for a special behind-the-scenes Coffee Date. Marnie is in the process of creating her installation "Night Train" in the Lower Level of the museum's main building at 500 Sampsonia Way. Her installation will be part of the museum's upcoming exhibition, Factory Installed, featuring four artists from around the globe. The Factory Installed Opening Reception will be held Friday, September 18 from 6-8pm.
Marnie gave a brief overview of her practice and her experience working with galleries located in Los Angeles, New York, Paris, London and Athens, Greece. Marnie is building a train in the Lower Level and explained her fascination with trains began at a very early age when she lived for a year in Taiwan next to a steam engine. "Night Train" will be accompanied by many effigies or spirit totems, as Marnie likes to call them. These spirit totems are created by manipulating found objects such as masks and wigs, and sculpting them to give a monster-like appearance. "I like to work with monsters because no females tend to work with monsters. It's more of a man's thing," Marnie explained.
After the introduction, Marnie toured the group through her partially installed work, explaining that it will look completely different in a few weeks when the exhibition opens. Marnie is also a musician and is composing a soundtrack that will be played on a loop in the installation. "The lighting will also be totally different," Marnie made sure to tell everyone. "It will be more theatrical!"

Marnie Weber's "Night Train" opens as part of Factory Installed on September 18 and will be open through Spring 2016.

For more information about upcoming Coffee Dates or to become a member, visit our website at

Friday, August 14, 2015

RECAP // Teen Summer Art Cooperative Program

This past summer 16 high school students spent three days a week at the museum participating in the inaugural year of the Mattress Factory's Summer Art Cooperative. We launched this program because we wanted to make the Mattress Factory a resource for students in the same way that we act as a resource for professional artists—a place where they can experiment, think big, and take their work to the next level.

The Summer Art Cooperative also addresses the ins and outs of being an artist- expanding our teens’ repertoire of techniques and methods, but also to help them figure out how to make art stay a part of their life as they transition into self-sufficiency and start thinking about their own career pathway. Basically, what we wanted to do with the Summer Art Cooperative is combine all of the “aha” moments that have helped to get us where we’re at—to pool our collective epiphanies together—so that pursuing a creative life doesn’t seem so impossible or financially unstable.

The students in this program had the opportunity to meet with ten different working artists and creative folks in the Pittsburgh community. The goals was to expose students to a variety of new mediums, new definitions of being an artists and the various ways to live a creative life. The students had workshops with John Peña (an artist featured in our recent Artists in Residence exhibition), Frederick Arnold, owner of a local record label, Caiti Sullivan, a master fermenter + pickler, Kevin Clancy, taught a workshop on inflatable utopias, Michael Koliner taught students about cob and hosted a workshop called “Mud Dance!” and more. Students also met with most of the Mattress Factory staff to truly understand what happens behind-the-scenes. From the first day of the program the students also had the challenge of planning their own event. The group decided that they wanted to host their own art exhibition featuring work by all of the Cooperative members on the theme of Identity.

The final celebration and showcase was a huge success. The Cooperative students organized and played experimental music made out of game boy loops and synth samples, showed an installations that included fake blood, fake birthday cakes, a smoking slime ball, an inflatable tetrahydron, and much much more. There was tons and tons of pizza and so many family and friends came out to support the students and celebrate all their handwork. It was an awesome summer and we can’t wait to see what our artists do next.

If you are interested in teen programming at the Mattress Factory, be sure to check out our new TEEN ART COOPERATIVE program. We will meet on Thursdays from 4-6pm at the museum. Applications are due Sunday, September 20th and space is limited! If you are interested in finding out more about the Teen Art Cooperative come to our info session on Tuesday, September 15th from 3:30-6pm. For questions and more information e-mail

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

RECAP // Coffee Date with Jacob Douenias + Ethan Frier

On August 1, Jacob Douenias and Ethan Frier hosted a Coffee Date at the Mattress Factory's satellite gallery at 1414 Monterey Street where their installation "Living Things" occupies the entire first floor. Jacob and Ethan are alumni from Carnegie Mellon University's School of Architecture and School of Design, respectively.

Their installation is set as though you're walking into a home. A seating area equipped with a rug and coffee table greet you as you first enter the room, and a table and black and white tiled floor are positioned at the rear with a desk roped off to the left. Jacob and Ethan choose to host their Coffee Date in their installation, as opposed to the MF Café where previous Coffee Dates are typically held. MF Members were invited to sit down and use the coffee table, as Jacob and Ethan made themselves available to answer questions.
Jacob and Ethan opened up the roped off desk on the left-hand side of the room to demonstrate to MF Members how their installation was operating. It is indeed a "living thing," with the algae growing in the basement of the museum (not on view) and being pumped and siphoned to the glass orbs controlled by a series of white knobs embedded in the wooden desk.

Don't miss our next behind-the-scenes Coffee Date with upcoming artist Marnie Weber on August 15 at 10:30am. Marnie's installation opens as Part II of Factory Installed on September 19.

For more information about Coffee Dates or to become a member, please visit our website at

Monday, August 10, 2015

RECAP // Mini-Factory: PATTERNS!

PATTERNS surround us in our world. They can be created using colors, shapes, and different sizes ... on our clothes, dinner plates and sidewalks, PATTERNS allow us to find repetition at its best. Thick, white stripes on a street indicate it is safe to cross. Rows of alternating red rectangles reach up to the sky exemplifying the craftsmanship of a multi-storied building (like the Mattress Factory!). Some artists use PATTERNS to convey feelings, set a mood, or shock our senses. Mini-Factory visited shift lens by Anne Lindberg. Using tightly pulled thread secured to each side of the room, a colorful yet surreal crisscross PATTERN is created. Light filters from the windows behind allowing colors to bend and play with your visual senses. The consensus? ... Very cool!

Yayoi Kusama uses polka-dots throughout her installations so viewers may experience her point of view - literally - and the ensuing feelings. What do you feel when walking through Infinity Dots Mirrored Room and Repetitive Vision? Calm, jolted, dizzy? The abundance of polka-dots plays a large role with how we feel in these installations.

PATTERNS also occur naturally, such as the lines in a blade of grass, the veins of a leaf and the speckles in a piece of granite. Our young artists were given magnifying glasses and asked to walk through Winifred Lutz's Garden in search of patterns. Leaves, bricks, rocks and water were inspected for naturally occurring PATTERNS - success!

Of course given the chance, these energetic artists love to create something new. Using their imagination and inspiration learning and observing PATTERNS, our young crew created their own installations with various materials such as yarn, stickers, markers, pipe cleaners and tape. There were PATTERNS of all kinds; two-toned stripes, colorful polka-dots, sparkling spirals, and more.

Mini-Factory is an interactive learning program for children ages 3-5 years old and their parents or caregivers. Using contemporary installation art, parents and children will explore new ideas and concepts from the everyday world. Join us at 10am on August 22, 2015 to explore the theme of SCIENCE.