• Asa Ana

Billboards Present Artworks by Students

Eight works of art are now on display on Pittsburgh-area billboards as a result of a collaboration between School of Art students at Carnegie Mellon University and Lamar Outdoor Advertising. This is the second time in as many years that School of Art students have had the opportunity to make their art visible to tens of thousands of people around Pittsburgh every day.

"Lamar Outdoor Advertising is providing a unique opportunity to our students," said Visiting Assistant Professor Christopher Sperandio. "No other art students in the country are making new artworks as billboards, and certainly not on a scale like this."

The project began last year, when Sperandio contacted Lamar Outdoor Advertising about using billboards as a way to train students in creating new graphic artwork for a general public. Lamar provided four 11' by 24' billboards in locations around Pittsburgh. This year, Lamar doubled its contribution to eight billboards, and Sperandio, along with School of Art associate professors Ayanah Moor and Kim Beck, have engaged their sophomore printmaking students in the task of making new artworks for billboards.

"The School of Art is really lucky to have the support of Lamar Outdoor. It's not only an opportunity for our students to think about art-making beyond the traditional definitions, but a great way for them to experience corporate generosity first hand," Beck said.

For the billboards, students designed new art specifically for a Pittsburgh audience. Forty students competed for the eight billboards. The winners were chosen by Elizabeth Thomas, the Phyllis Wattis MATRIX Curator in Berkeley, California.

"Carnegie Mellon Univiersty has a long history of fostering the inter-relationship of art and public life. These collected works, which take advantage of scale, visibility and conventions of commerce, will no doubt provide Pittsburgh drivers with fodder for reflection, amusement and engagement," said Thomas, former associate curator of contemporary art at the Carnegie Museum of Art and a guest curator at The Andy Warhol Museum.

Billboard Art Descriptions by the Artists:

"Think Pretty" by sophomore Jooyoung Kang

"My billboard is a surreal image of pretty flowers growing on a bald guy's head and he's happy! What you think can change your life - so don't think too much. Think pretty and you'll live pretty."

"Untitled" by sophomore Julia Kennedy

"This photographic image is made of two parts. On one side, a boy and girl are holding hands and on the other side they are standing apart. The story is a bit ambiguous or mysterious, but ultimately a little sad. The work questions nature of different relationships. Moody lighting helps to set the tone for the piece."

"My Secret" by sophomore Alissa Osial

"The work looks like a partially destroyed billboard. The viewer can read 'My secret is I like...' but the rest of the message has been ripped away. The viewer is able to interact with this piece by creating their own message, letting them imagine what the secret is. I am not telling the viewer what I am hiding, or what the meaning is. I want to leave it up to them to decide that."

"You've Lost That Loving Feeling" by sophomores Taylor Shields and Jenn Inman

"In this photographic image, a hand holds a small piece of paper that reads 'you've lost that loving feeling.' To the viewer, it looks like a found note. We are addressing the effect of pop culture on people's lives, by transforming a popular lyric into a seemingly more intimate phrase, and integrating it into a very public media. Maybe the viewer will want to sing the rest of the song, or maybe this image will change the course of their day in a small way."

"Chaos" by sophomore Robin Scheines

"My billboard is a drawing of a seated man, and all around him is a chaotic cityscape. This work is about the viewer and their relationship to the urban environment. The seated man surrounded by the bustling city is meant to invite viewers to pause for a moment, and listen to their environment. To enjoy the present even in so much chaos and movement."

"Popular" by junior Terry Boyd

"My billboard is a fake graffiti tag on an existing billboard. By creating this image in the comfort of my studio and superimposing it digitally on an existing billboard image, I have eliminated the danger and risk associated with vandalism. I'm trying to buy street cred by defacing a modest advertisement with an image of wealth and hedonism."

"Sprawl" by junior Ryan Woodring

"For my billboard design, I wanted the flooded suburbs to leak back out on to the highways. It would be interesting to see an entire neighborhood of these images all projecting themselves out on to the street. By eliminating the role of perceived space within the image, the billboard hopefully reads more like the facade of a house and less like a copied image."

"Say Something" by sophomore Jessica Jackson

"My billboard features brightly colored demonstrators holding up signs that read: 'Say something, anything.' I made it to show my respect for those of us who put ourselves out there and tell people what they think. I want viewers to be reminded that they have the right, and really the responsibility to voice their opinions about their concerns."

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