Office of Public Art Announces Artists for Environment, Health, and Public Art Initiative

Pittsburgh, PA - August 15, 2019 - The Office of Public Art (OPA) is pleased to announce the teams selected for their new Environment, Health, and Public Art Initiative, a pilot program partnering three artists with three Pittsburgh-area organizations that have identified environment and health issues as topics of concern and advocacy. Three organizations were selected through a Request for Qualifications process. Once the organizations were selected, OPA released a national call for artists.

The selected artists were chosen by committees comprised of members from each organization, project partners, and arts professionals. The call for artists attracted artists from across the country. The collaborating teams are:

  • Center for Civic Arts and Nine Mile Run Watershed Association are collaborating with artist Ginger Brooks Takahashi to bring attention to emission pollutants in the air we breathe and in the water we drink, and to advocate for water and air quality in eastern Pittsburgh and neighboring communities.
  • Grow Pittsburgh is collaborating with artist Mary Tremonte to advocate for healthy land and healthy communities by raising awareness of soil health, including lead and heavy metals contamination, in our neighborhoods.
  • North Braddock Residents For Our Future is collaborating with artist Aaron Henderson to promote community health and clean air while fighting unconventional gas drilling and major source polluters in the Mon Valley.

“Artist-led civic engagement around the issues that threaten our quality of life can ignite a call to action and lead to transformative approaches to addressing the problems that face us. The Environment, Health, and Public Art initiative is designed to facilitate such collaboration in the face of one of the most pressing issues of our time – our region’s environmental health crisis,” said Sallyann Kluz, Director of the Office of Public Art.  “The work of this remarkable group of artists and organizations will spur a call to action and build new paths for advocacy.”

The goal of the initiative is for the partnering artists and organizations to collaborate on the development of temporary works of public art that will catalyze change and build support and advocacy for environmental health issues in the Pittsburgh region.  The artworks that result from these collaborations will be a catalyst to do one or more of the following: increase awareness of key environmental issues relating to air/water quality and lead toxicity; increase advocacy by members of the public about these issues in our region; develop tools that can be utilized beyond the life of the project to build awareness and advocacy for the issues explored in the artwork; and increase visibility of and advocacy for environmental impacts on at-risk communities and susceptible populations. These public artworks are expected to be present in the community served by each organization for 1-2 years. The exact vision, form, location, and materials for the project will be determined by the artist in collaboration with the organization.

An Advisory Committee consisting of representatives from the Breathe Project, Green Building Alliance, Neighborhood Allies, and Women for a Healthy Environment is partnering with OPA and the project teams. This project is being generously funded by The Heinz Endowments.

About the Artists

Ginger Brooks Takahashi’s collaborative project-based, socially enraged practice is an extension of feminist spaces and queer inquiry, actively building community, and nurturing alternative forms of information distribution. She is co-founder of queer and feminist journal LTTR; projet MOBILIVRE BOOKMOBILE project; the touring musical act MEN; and General Sisters. She has presented work at the Oakland Museum of California, 2019; Jewish Museum, 2016; Tensta Konsthall, 2015; Brooklyn Museum, 2013; Museo Tamayo, 2010; New Museum, 2009; and Serpentine Gallery, 2008. She received her BA from Oberlin College and attended the Whitney Independent Study Program in 2007.

Aaron Henderson’s photographs, videos, and installations engage in an ongoing critique of our relationship to spectacle, technology and performance. He believes that it is only through a thorough examination of ourselves—and our culture—that we can discover what we were, what we are, and what we are becoming. Well acquainted with movement, he threw himself into walls and off platforms for STREB Extreme Action, an acrobatic performance company from 2002-6. His videos and installations have been presented at the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Wexner Center, and many other museums and galleries in the United States, Europe and Asia. His projection designs have been presented at Lincoln Center, the Andy Warhol Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston) and theaters and festivals around the world. Aaron is an Associate Professor in the Department of Studio Arts at the University of Pittsburgh.

Mary Tremonte is an artist, educator, and DJ based in Pittsburgh, with a piece of her heart in Toronto. A member of Justseeds Artists' Cooperative, she works with "printmaking in the expanded field," including printstallation, interactive silkscreen printing in public space, and wearable artist multiples such as queer scout badges. Through her work she aims to create temporary utopias and sustainable commons through pedagogy, collaboration, visual pleasure, and serious fun. Formerly the youth programs coordinator at The Andy Warhol Museum, and recently an artist in residence with Literacy Pittsburgh, she values art education as a means of empowerment and social change. As DJ Mary Mack she strives to make safe(r) spaces on dance floors for embodying a body politic with pleasure. Both independently and with Justseeds, Mary has  exhibited, presented lectures and workshops, and performed in Pittsburgh, Toronto, throughout the United States, and internationally.

About Office of Public Art

Office of Public Art is the leading agent and advocate for public art in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Founded in 2005, we serve communities and artists throughout the region by providing public art education, commissions, project management, artist selection, and artist residencies in the public realm. We collaborate with individuals and organizations in both the public and private sector. For more information, visit

About Center for Civic Arts and Nine Mile Run Watershed Association

Center for Civic Arts is a community-based arts organization that supports artistic citizens and public art enterprises that bring forth ideas about our lives as a way to know, understand, gather and act.

Founded in 2001, Nine Mile Run Watershed Association restores and protects its watershed ecosystem, while working regionally to support and implement resilient solutions for a healthy urban environment. NMRWA educates young people and adults about environmental problems, provides citizens and elected officials with the tools to make positive change, and advocates for smarter policy choices through the Clean Rivers Campaign, the Our Water Campaign, and other regional forums.

About Grow Pittsburgh

At Grow Pittsburgh we believe that everyone in our city and region should have the opportunity to grow and eat local, healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food. We make gardening accessible for home, school, and community gardeners and urban farmers.  Our community gardening program works with community leaders, neighbors, and partner organizations throughout Allegheny County, both by helping build new gardens and by supporting existing gardens.

About North Braddock Residents For Our Future

North Braddock Residents For Our Future is an all-volunteer, grassroots group of residents organized to promote community health and clean air, and fight unconventional gas drilling in our community. We came together in 2014 to resist proposed unconventional gas wells at the Grandview Golf Course, North Braddock, Pennsylvania. Working closely with North Braddock council members, residents and business owners we were able to defeat the placement of unconventional gas wells at Grandview Golf Course through zoning changes. We stepped up our efforts in 2017 to resist Merrion Oil and Gas’s proposed unconventional gas wells at United States Steel (USS) Edgar Thomson Works (ET Works).