Wednesday, April 22, 2015

We Love Our Volunteers!

We hosted an MF Volunteer Appreciation Event last night at Wigle Whiskey in the Strip District!  Volunteers and staff enjoyed custom cocktails before a guided tour of the distillery's facilities. After a whiskey tasting and sushi, awards were given to just a few of our many dedicated volunteers. The museum couldn't run without these dedicated individuals and we thank each and every one of them for their support!

We’d also like to thank these organizations for donating gift cards/passes for our outstanding volunteers: The Warhol Museum, Monterey Pub, Big Burrito Group, Max’s Allegheny Tavern, James Street Gastropub, Cleveland Cinemas, Carnegie Museum of Art, Primanti Brothers and Nine on Nine.

Interested in volunteering at the MF? We'd love to have you! Attend the next Volunteer Orientation or contact for more information.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

RECAP // Coffee Date with John Peña

MF Members gathered around the tables in the MF Café this past Saturday to have a conversation with artist John Peña!

The chat naturally revolved around the making of John's "Word Balloons," on view through May 31 at the museum. Over the duration of a cup or two of coffee, John explained how the word balloons evolved from a project he began over a decade ago called "Letters to the Ocean." Since 2003, John has written over 3,000 letters to the Pacific Ocean about his daily happenings. John sometimes included private drawings to accompany these letters. Hiding these drawings in a letter addressed to the Pacific Ocean, John explained, was a way to express himself without exposing himself. "Eventually I realized I was censoring myself," John explained. So he decided to stop hiding his drawings in letters that would never be opened. "Daily Geology" is a compilation of all his drawings from 2014. The phrase "Sometimes I just don't know how to be in the world," written on one of the two word balloons John created for the Mattress Factory, was taken directly from one of John's daily drawings.

The next Coffee Date will be Saturday, May 2, 2015 with upcoming artist in residence, Julie Schenkelberg. This Coffee Date will take place in our 1414 Monterey Street gallery. Please RSVP to Caitlin Harpster, Development & Membership Coordinator.

Not a member? Join today!

Monday, April 20, 2015

We need your help!

A previous work by artist Julie Schenkelberg.

We have a unique opportunity that would allow your own items to become part of a new work at the Mattress Factory!

Julie Schenkelberg, an artist who has been chosen to present work in our upcoming Factory Installed exhibition in the museum's 1414 Monterey Street gallery, is in the process of collecting materials for her installation. Though our exhibitions team has been searching high and low for the materials she has requested, we need a lot more. If you have any of the items below that you've been meaning to discard, please consider donating them to this project. Items cannot be returned and might be altered or damaged in the making of the artwork.

The following have been requested:

-“Cut-glass” style stemware, dishes, etc or any type
-White porcelain items, either plain or with gold, silver or blue decoration
-Blue or green porcelain items, plain or decorated. Light blues and mint greens are especially in demand!
-Vintage vanity items
-Metal butter knives
-Old wooden chairs, tables etc. Broken is okay!
-Cotton batting
-White blankets
-Sheer fabrics in white, light blue and gold
-Scraps and broken pieces of white marble

This list may grow! Check back for additional requests.

Donations can be dropped off at the Mattress Factory Admissions Desk during regular museum hours. If you have a large collection of items that need picked up, please contact Exhibitions Manager Owen Smith directly.

Thank you. and we hope to see you (and your things) for the opening May 15!

Monday, April 13, 2015

PREVIEW // MF Sound Series

Join us for April's "MF After 5" event! Museum doors will be open until 8pm on Thursday, April 16 and Kevin Clancy's silent video installation your heart is a prism will be on view in the MF Lobby as part of our ongoing SCREENINGS series. Live sound performances will accompany Clancy's work throughout the evening.

Can't make it April 16? Swing by on Sunday, April 19 between 1-5pm to see additional live sound performances created in response to Clancy's work.

From the artist // A new prismatic video installation for Mattress Factory's SCREENINGS series. All visuals are produced through analog and physical processes, bending light through a series of crystals, prisms, colored plexiglas, rainbow diffraction grating films, emergency blankets, and lenses during a week at Cat Mansion Residency in Ann Arbor, MI and Sleeping Bear Dunes in Empire, MI.

The title and mantra of this piece was inspired by the “Your Heart Is A Prism!” poster by Peter Glantz, Becky Stark, and Jacob Ciocci. Check out their respective mountains of awesome work.

Friday, April 3, 2015

RECAP // Factory 500: Federal Courthouse + Jones Day

The MF's Factory 500 membership group got a special look at the historic Federal Courthouse located downtown on Grant Street. Courtroom deputy clerk Michael Palus lead the group on a detailed tour throughout the building. Factory 500 members got to experience the beautifully restored historic courtrooms with their plush carpets, high ceilings and beautiful murals dating back to 1936. Unfortunately, no photographs [or cell phones] were permitted in the building for security reasons.
Following the courthouse tour, members made their way down the street to Jones Day, an international law firm, for an artist talk and reception. Upon arrival, Jones Day Partner-in-Charge Laura Ellsworth gave a brief introduction to their corporate collection highlighting some of her favorite pieces. Pittsburgh artist Ron Donoughe was present to give an overview of his work in the collection, and to discuss a new project he's been working on for the last year.
Thank you to everyone who came to the Federal Courthouse and Jones Day. To check out more photos from this Factory 500 event, and past events, please visit our Flickr page.

Factory 500 is the Mattress Factory's premiere membership program, chaired by Susan Lammie. The group tours private collections, artist studios, local businesses, and other interesting arts destinations in Pittsburgh several times throughout the year. Don't miss out -- join today!

Stay tuned for information about our next Factory 500 event this spring!
Membership Coordinator

Monday, March 30, 2015

RECAP // MF @ SXSWedu Conference

This post was written by Felice Cleveland, the Mattress Factory's Director of Education.

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending the SXSWedu conference in Austin, TX. Most people associate SXSW with music, films and technology, but five years ago they launched SXSWedu as a place to imagine the future of teaching and learning. SXSWedu is a community-fueled event, and one of the unique qualities of this conference is the Panel Picker feature where anyone can submit a proposal and the crowd votes on which sessions, speakers and topics they are most interested in. According to, this conference “fosters innovation in learning by hosting a diverse and energetic community of stakeholders from a variety of backgrounds in education.” During the conference I met fellow museum educators as well as architects who design schools, educational app-builders, designers and all sorts of teachers.

I participated in a panel with several Pittsburgh-based colleagues about a project-based learning collaboration called The Galleries Project. The panel was titled “Using Art to Transform Physical Spaces and Minds.”  The Galleries Project is an opportunity for high school students to partner with a mentor from a local art institution (the Mattress Factory, the Warhol Museum, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Pittsburgh Glass Center and last year it was the Toonseum and this year the Children’s Museum). The students visit their partner organization, learn more about career opportunities in the arts, and see behind-the-scenes how exhibitions are installed and curated. The students then work together as a group to choose a place within their school to create their own installation inspired by their partner institution. The students present a detailed plan and budget to their peers and partner organizations. Once their project is approved they have to work on installing and making their plan a reality. This sort of holistic way of thinking about an assignment is called project-based learning. Through this process the students begin to gain many 21st century skills – like teamwork, collaboration, creative problem solving and communication. Another key aspect of this project is that students have a direct impact on the physical space in their school. They are allowed to paint the walls, hang work and create art that they will see every day in their hallways. During our panel discussion we had several educators who were very interested in the project and asked questions about how they could replicate it in their cities and schools.

The conference was a lot to take in and I am still pondering how the Mattress Factory Education Department can tap into and respond to many of the trends, concerns and new ideas around education. I wanted to share some information about the people that I heard speak who were particularly inspiring, and other interesting issues that arose at SXSWedu.  

The conference started with a keynote by Charles Best who is the founder of It is one of the first crowd funding sites, specifically built for teachers to request resources for their classroom – anything from pencils and paper to field trips, iPads, books or art supplies. (Check it out! There are many Pittsburgh-based schools and projects featured.) I also got to hear Rosanne Somerson, the new president of the Rhode Island School of Design speak about the impact of critical making. Design is not just a way to solve problems, but a way to reframe the questions. Learning how to be a critical maker means coming up against uncertainty, being nimble and working through it. At the Mattress Factory this is a quality we encourage in our artists and all of our students. Many of the challenges that we face here we have never had to deal with before – whether it be an installation where we are slicing through the building inthe name of art or creating a rainbow in one of our galleries. We don’t know the final product and how it is going to work out, but we problem solve and work through it. We encourage our students to do the same and know that this is a quality that will serve them well as creative adults in the world.

One of my favorite parts of the conference was eduFilms—at the Alamo Drafthouse (imagine a movie theater that serves you food and drinks during the movie!). They showed a series of poignant narratives and documentaries focusing on all aspects of education. I saw Most Likely to Succeed, a documentary about how our education system has remained the same in many ways since 1893. A school is highlighted that is turning our current education model on its head, instead of focusing on content and testing, students are given one large project to work on as a class for the course of the year. In this way students are asked to work together and problem solve and these teachers believe they are sending students out in the world that are better prepared for college and the workplace. I also saw a documentary called This is My Land about how students in Israel and Palestine are taught about their history and each other. The last film I saw, If You Build It, followed a keynote by the subject of the film, Emily Pilloton. Emily is the Founder and Executive Director of Project H, which according to their website is a non-profit teaching youth to design and build their future with hearts, hands and hammers. The documentary is about a course called Studio H that Emily and her partner Matthew Miller designed for a rural town in North Carolina. They worked closely with a group of 10 students over the course of the year teaching them design and hands-on building techniques with the goal that at the end of the class the students would build something for their community. I definitely recommend all of these films if you ever get a chance to see them. They also really brought home the idea of project-based learning and the power of trusting students and motivating them by connecting them to their community.

Getting back into the routine here at home, I am still thinking about these ideas and working to bring more project-based learning and community connections to our work on Pittsburgh’s Northside. To learn more about what we are doing in the Education Department at the Mattress Factory be sure to check out Please feel free to e-mail me at if you ever have any questions.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

RECAP // Coffee Dates with Kathleen Montgomery

This past Saturday, March 21st, marked the second installment of the Mattress Factory's new member program Coffee Dates with special guest Kathleen Montgomery. MF Members of all ages gathered around the tables in the MF Café to sit and chat with her.
Kathleen Montgomery is one of the artists in the Mattress Factory's current exhibition Artists in Residence. Her exhibition, "Body Memory Architecture" is located at the museum's satellite gallery 1414 Monterey Street. Kathy's exhibition closes March 29th. She is a long-time friend of the Mattress Factory that first exhibited at the MF in 1989 with a solo show "Toward the Dark," and again in a Gestures show in 2003. More information about these exhibitions can be found in the Active Archive on our website.

After everyone got settled with their coffee and tea, the conversation was quick to begin with an opening comment by Kathleen regarding how she begins her artistic process. "It's all made by hand. My hands are where I start," she said. Members were eager to jump in, drawing their own connections to the human form and body. One member made the comment that the exhibition felt "meditative and spiritual." Another referred to it as "beautifully wild." Another member said she was speechless.
The next Coffee Date will be with artist John Peña on Saturday, April 18, 2015 at 10:30am in the MF Café. RSVP to