Carnegie Museum of Art Announces Sara Greenberger Rafferty, a New Exhibition of Photographic Works

This solo exhibition features new works by the multimedia artist, including a site-specific mural installation produced specifically for Carnegie Museum of Art.

Sara Greenberger Rafferty, Search Emoji, 2021, fused and kiln-formed glass and hardware. 70 1⁄4 x 87 1⁄2 x 1 in. Courtesy the artist and DOCUMENT, Chicago.

Pittsburgh, PA (September 22, 2021) – Carnegie Museum of Art announces Sara Greenberger Rafferty, opening October 15, 2021 and on view through February 6, 2022. For this solo exhibition and 85th installment of Carnegie Museum of Art’s Forum series, Rafferty extends her exploration of glass as a photographic medium with a series of new works that addresses notions of aesthetics, consumerism, and identity.

Once a department store window dresser, Rafferty draws on her skills as a merchandiser to create alluring artworks that highlight the importance of digital images and also challenge normative notions of beauty and gender. Several of the artist’s Tester pieces feature photographs of colorful make-up palettes to address the role of cosmetics in creating unrealistic societal standards. Rafferty also incorporates images of mannequins which further underscore the disconnect between how bodies are “supposed” to look ❤ Rafferty creates other works in the exhibition by printing images in powdered glass on paper which she then fires in a kiln, burning away the paper and vitrifying the glass. In addition to being a tactile medium that highlights Rafferty’s process-driven practice, glass is a significant choice because of its ubiquity as the material used in touchscreens for phones, tablets, and other personal electronic devices. Tapping and swiping on these devices has created new ways of interacting with images and consumer products, and Rafferty invites a consideration of the ever-changing implications for photography in the digital era.

“My favorite aspect of using the kiln to form, deform, and reform glass is the fact that glass ‘shows’ cuts, breaks, and separations even when it is fully fused together,” states Sara Greenberger Rafferty. “This underscores my commitment to a feminist way of making work, one which resists and questions mastery, completion, and answers. Instead, I work to ‘show my work,’ and ask more questions than I answer.”
versus how they actually look. Backdropping these works, Rafferty presents a new site-specific mural THE DEAD 20TH CENTURY (What was saved) which covers the largest wall in the gallery with thumbnail images of items for sale in online art, design, and furniture auctions.

Other imagery in the exhibition, including magnifying glasses, telephones, and power buttons, references different senses, and Rafferty encourages still deeper connection to the gallery space by including cut flowers in several of the artworks. These flowers, which will be changed several times during the run of the show, were selected by Carnegie Museum of Art’s Youth Arts Initiative. The Youth Arts Initiative is an advisory group focused on the engagement, advancement, and support of local Pittsburgh-area teens, and their selections, made in collaboration with museum staff and the artist, are intended to reflect the changing seasons and evoke the passage of time.

“We’re thrilled to present Rafferty’s new works at Carnegie Museum of Art,” says Dan Leers, curator of photography. “Her innovative, multimedia practice resonates globally in its examination of the role of photography and glass in reinforcing consumerist tendencies and unrealistic ideals of beauty. Rafferty’s art merits an unhurried visit during which we might understand the ways in which we have been conditioned by digital imagery and question its authority and authenticity.”

Prior to her exhibition opening at Carnegie Museum of Art, Rafferty will be in residency at Fallingwater, the 1935 house designed by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright for the Kaufmann family which owned one of the largest department stores in Pittsburgh. There, she will create a new video work scheduled to premiere at Carnegie Museum of Art in February 2022. She will also lead a two-part masterclass in glassmaking and photography taking place on October 2 and 9, 2021. Co-presented by Carnegie Museum of Art, Fallingwater, and Pittsburgh Glass Center, this masterclass is designed for creative people seeking to expand their artistic skill set or just learn about different glassmaking and photographic processes. Participants will be guided through the creation of image transfers to glass and will make two works as part of the instruction. For more information on registration, please visit

Sara Greenberger Rafferty (b. 1978 in Evanston, IL, lives and works in Brooklyn, NY) is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Photography at Pratt Institute. She received a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design and MFA from Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Since 2001, Rafferty has shown widely including solo exhibitions at MoMA PS1, New York; The Kitchen, New York; Eli Marsh Gallery, Amherst College, Massachusetts; and a commissioned sculpture for the Public Art Fund. Gloves Off, the first traveling survey of her work with a fully illustrated catalogue published by SUNY Press, completed a three-venue tour at the end of 2017. Rafferty’s work has also been included in the Whitney and Hammer Biennials and is in the collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Yale University Art Gallery among many others.

A series of events and programs will accompany Carnegie Museum of Art’s presentation of Sara Greenberger Rafferty. Unless otherwise noted, Carnegie Museum of Art events are pay what you wish with registration. To learn more about events and programs related to this exhibition, please visit

Sara Greenberger Rafferty, the 85th installment of Carnegie Museum of Art’s Forum series, is organized by Dan Leers, curator of photography.

Significant funding for the Forum series is generously provided by the Juliet Lea Hillman Simonds Foundation.

Additional support is provided by Nancy and Woody Ostrow, the Ruth Levine Memorial Fund, and The Fellows of Carnegie Museum of Art. Special production support is provided by Bullseye Glass.

Carnegie Museum of Art is supported by The Heinz Endowments and Allegheny Regional Asset District. Carnegie Museum of Art receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

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Health and Safety
Since the start of COVID-19 pandemic, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh has continued to follow government and public health guidance to keep staff and visitors safe. To prevent the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant in areas with high transmission, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly recommends that every person—vaccinated and unvaccinated—wear a mask when inside public spaces. For that reason, all visitors age 2 and above are required to wear masks while inside our museums, and our staff members and volunteers will be wearing masks, too. Visitors experiencing COVID-19 symptoms are kindly asked to remain at home. To learn more about our Health and Safety measures, please visit

Carnegie Museum of Art creates experiences that connect people to art, ideas, and one another. The museum is committed to global engagement and regional advancement. We champion creativity and its importance to society with experiences that welcome, inspire, challenge, and inform. Our core activities—collecting, conserving, presenting, and interpreting works of art—make those experiences possible. Our collection of over 34,000 works emphasizes art, architecture, photography, and design from the 19th century to the present. In addition, the museum houses the archive of more than 70,000 images by Pittsburgh photographer Charles “Teenie” Harris, whose work comprises one of the most detailed and intimate records of Black life in America. Through its programming, exhibitions, and publications, Carnegie Museum of Art frequently explores the role of art and artists in confronting key social issues of our time, combining and juxtaposing local and global perspectives. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art was founded by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1895. To learn more, please call 412.622.3131 or visit

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