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Hemispheric Conversations Urban Art Project

Bruce, Caitlin and Samaniego, Sylvia Rhor and Cohen, Oreen and Gonzales, Max and Pilster, Shane (2021) Hemispheric Conversations Urban Art Project. In: Pitt Momentum Fund 2021.

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Hemispheric Conversations Urban Art Project (HCUAP, pronounced “Hiccup”), is a public art platform that draws on the urban arts as a framework through which we can map the aesthetic, historical and cultural connections between Pittsburgh and similar post-industrial cities. HCUAP promotes urban art (graffiti, street art, and mural production) as a tool for education and dialogue about cultural expression, conscious redevelopment, and the preservation and celebration of diverse cultural identities.

HCUAP partners University of Pittsburgh staff, faculty and students with arts and education organizations in the Pittsburgh area and artists and scholars from national and international institutions. We create shared opportunities for youth and adult arts education; public conversations about art, activism and social justice; mentorship and networking opportunities for underrepresented artists; and site-specific murals across the city. We offer three-pronged and synthetic programming: youth workshops, mural production, and public conversations to use dialogue about the arts as a prism for addressing larger community needs.

HCUAP was founded in 2016 as a partnership between Caitlin Bruce (Associate Professor of Communication); Oreen Cohen (artist, educator, and community programmer); Shane Pilster (artist, graphic designer, curator and programmer); and Max Gonzales (artist, community organizer, curator and organizer). Since 2016 HCUAP has maintained a partnership with Rivers of Steel for its mural series, since Pilster runs the Graffiti Art Tours program; and has also partnered with Assemble, Carnegie Libraries Pittsburgh-Hazelwood, Pittsburgh Learning Commons, and Millvale Community Library for Youth Street Art workshops since its founding. For our artist residency program we connect visiting artists to studio hubs and centers for networking like Radiant Hall and Artist Image Resource. We worked with the South Side Community Council in 2017 to inaugurate their Fox Way Mural Corridor and offer evidence of the value of permission graffiti (changing their approach from erasure to collaboration). Our model is to work with established local organizations that work in the area of afterschool arts programming, artist development, and education contributing a focus on urban art and public space by generating curricula, mentoring teaching artists, producing murals, and creating larger conversations about just urban governance.

HCUAP was formed because of a shared need for hemispheric conversations around urban art. Urban art is an important form of public visual art that is often ill-understood and stigmatized, and yet it historically has been a tremendous resource for critical and aesthetic voice in international contexts. Pittsburgh, in particular, has limited spaces for sanctioned expression. Currently, there are only two permission spaces in the entire city. Though we are in a moment where graffiti and street art is becoming more formally supported, it is done in a fragmented way, often without connecting art practice to larger conversations.


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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Bruce, Caitlincaitlinb@pitt.educaitlinb0000-0003-0834-1777
Samaniego, Sylvia Rhorsylvia.rhor@pitt.edusylvia.rhor
Centers: Other Centers, Institutes, Offices, or Units > Office of Sponsored Research > Pitt Momentum Fund
Date: 2021
Event Title: Pitt Momentum Fund 2021
Event Type: Other
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.18117/k709-jj47
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Communication: Rhetoric and Communication
Refereed: No
Other ID: 4231
Date Deposited: 26 Mar 2021 19:09
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2023 19:29


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