35 contemporary artists and filmmakers consider economic inequality and labor in a new group exhibition opening March 5 and running through June 26, 2022
L-R: Martin Wong, Ten Brooklyn Storefronts, from the Sunset Park Series (detail), 1985, acrylic on canvas, in 10 parts, 18 x 14 in. Courtesy P.P.O.W. and a private collector. Margarita Cabrera, Space in Between (detail), 2019, Border Patrol uniform fabric, copper wire, thread, and terracotta pot. Courtesy of the artist and Talley Dunn Gallery. Jill Freedman, Hands Like a Shawl, 1968, gelatin silver print, 11 x 14 in. Courtesy of the Jill Freedman Estate
Pittsburgh, PA (February 2, 2022) – From March 5 to June 26, 2022, Carnegie Museum of Art presents Working Thought, a major group exhibition that examines that examines the role of contemporary artists to consider and question the many ways economic inequality and labor have shaped American life past and present. Curated by Eric Crosby, the museum’s Henry J. Heinz II Director, Working Thought showcases contemporary artwork across media and generations, highlighting connections between diverse artistic practices. Through various programs, the exhibition provides a platform for discussion, inviting museum visitors to reflect on their own lived experiences through the works on view. A film series, presenting the work of five filmmakers, will also be an integral part of the exhibition.
Working Thought features works by 35 established and mid-career contemporary artists and filmmakers, including Fred Lonidier, who merges strategies of conceptual photography with activism; Margarita Cabrera, whose work invites the collaboration and involvement of immigrant communities; and Jessica Jackson Hutchins, whose kiln-fused glass works respond to contemporary social issues, in addition to works by Theaster Gates, Rodney McMillian, Jessica Vaughn, Andrea Bowers, and many others.
A combination of new commissions and loans are presented alongside works from the museum’s collection, positioning the collection in a new light and within the context of the history of Pittsburgh as a capital of industry. Many recent acquisitions on display will be on view at the museum for the first time, including Jaune Quick-to-See Smith’s Trade Canoe: The Surrounded (2018) and works by Cameron Rowland, Moyra Davey, and Jill Freedman. The exhibition probes the connections between art, economy, and labor within the larger historical relationship between Carnegie Museum of Art, Andrew Carnegie, and the city of Pittsburgh. The museum’s origins can be traced to 1886 with Andrew Carnegie’s initial concept: a museum that would “bring the world” to the people of Pittsburgh, particularly those who worked in the steel magnate’s empire. Traces of this dedication to industry and toil can still be seen today in John White Alexander’s mural The Crowning of Labor surrounding the 1907 Grand Staircase. “Carnegie Museum of Art is a readymade frame for Working Thought, and the exhibition is intended to take root here in site-specific ways. When I moved to Pittsburgh in 2015, I was struck by how present the city’s deep history of industry was not only in the built environment but also in the museum itself,” says Eric Crosby. “I hope the diverse range of artists and artworks featured in Working Thought will provide multiple points of entry into the timely and relevant social issues that the show addresses, shedding light on the power of art to challenge our most deeply seated assumptions.”
As part of Working Thought, five independent films will be screened in the Carnegie Museum of Art Theater. Each film will be introduced by a local expert whose background engages with the topic of that film. Screening dates and times and film names and directors are as follows:
• March 17, 2022, at 6:00 p.m. American Factory (2019) — directed by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert
• April 9, 2022, at 1:30 p.m. Killer of Sheep (1978) — directed by Charles Burnett
• April 28, 2022, at 6:00 p.m. Harlan County, USA (1976) — directed by Barbara Kopple
• May 21, 2022, at 1:30 p.m. Lightning Over Braddock: A Rustbowl Fantasy (1988) — directed
by Tony Buba
• June 16, 2022, at 6:00 p.m. Welfare (1975) — directed by Frederick Wiseman
A May Day (International Workers’ Day) celebration will also accompany the exhibition and provide a platform for discussion on art’s capacity to illuminate and reframe past and present conditions of economic inequality and labor. On April 21, 2022, from 6–8 p.m. in the museum’s Hall of Architecture and throughout the Working Thought galleries, various artists and the museum’s curators will come together for a public celebration of the exhibition. The evening will feature contemporary interpretations of work songs by regional musicians. On April 23, 2022, beginning at 10:30 a.m., artists in the exhibition, in partnership with community organizations, will lead public artmaking workshops throughout the museum in preparation for May Day. There will also be docent-led tours throughout the run of the exhibition as part of the museum’s ongoing Date with a Docent program for visitors. The exhibition will also include an In Conversation series of events taking place featuring special guest speakers at Carnegie Museum of Art’s Theatre. This series will also be live streamed for virtual audiences to enjoy:
• Thursday, March 10, 6:00 p.m. In Conversation: Curators with Meg Onli, Director and Curator of the Underground Museum in Los Angeles. Meg and fellow curators will discuss how museums can learn from artists whose work has transformative impacts.
• Saturday, April 23, 3:30 p.m. In Conversation: Artists with Pittsburgh-based artist Naomi Chambers. Naomi and participating artists of Working Thought will discuss how artists lead conversations about labor and economy and what relationships artists create and sustain between their art practices and the communities in which they live and work.
• Saturday, May 7, 2:00 p.m. In Conversation: Siblings with artist Carmen Winant and historian Gabriel Winant. Carmen and Gabriel will address the complexities and contradictions of domestic and feminized labor as seen through photography in their respective work.
More information about Working Thought and its events can be found at cmoa.org/exhibition/working-thought.
Significant support for the exhibition is provided by Kathe and Jim Patrinos, the Susan J. and Martin G. McGuinn Exhibition Fund, and the Virginia Kaufman Fund.
Generous support is provided by Brian Wongchaowart, with additional support from the Ford Family Foundation, Nancy and Woody Ostrow, and The Fellows of Carnegie Museum of Art. Support for curatorial research has been provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. a platform for discussion on art’s capacity to illuminate and reframe past and present conditions
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.
Fort Pitt Capital, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, and NOVA Chemicals.
Health and Safety
Since the start of the 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 COVID- 19 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 aged 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 cmoa.org/visit/health-safety.
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 CMOA.org.
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