Friday, February 20, 2015

PREVIEW // ARTLab: Feel the Music

  In our last ARTLab we created TAZs (Temporary Autonomous Zones) and people got SUPER SILLY. Check out how much fun people had when they rewrote the rules and had some fun.

If you have ever watched a dramatic movie scene or comedy, you certainly understand the importance of sound and music in art to evoke emotion. The right music can completely affect the way you view almost anything, including visual art, as exhibited by Danny Bracken’s What Does It Mean? When I visited the installation this weekend with sound on my mind, I began thinking about what it would be like without the soundtrack playing in the room. Would I see the piece the same or would my feelings about it completely change? I’m sure I wouldn’t have considered the feeling of false naturalness as greatly if the digital recording wasn’t playing.

Exploration of the idea of feeling and interacting with sound and music is the focus of the next ARTLab this Saturday, February 21, 2015 in the Mattress Factory Lobby. We will be experimenting with low frequency sounds from a variety of sources to investigate the different ways sound and music can be experienced. There will also be a cool gadget that can generate low frequencies and allow you to feel the vibrations in your body, taking the idea to a whole new level! Whether you toot on some jugs or literally feel the music with a signal generator through a big speaker, you’re bound to have a great time playing with and contemplating the sensations of sound.

ARTLab and Drop-in Tours are open to all ages and FREE with museum admission, so come down and explore the world of sound and music with us!

ALL-NEW // "Screenings 2015"

This is the third installment of Screenings, an installation of spontaneous film sketches inspired by the Mattress Factory's Gestures series. In this ongoing exhibition series, artists have been invited to create a new work specifically for the Mattress Factory's lobby projection screen. Each artist was asked to provide a quick and gestural "sketch" and encouraged to experiment outside their normal way of working. The first screening of 2015 will be Jen Gooch's Conviction, which will run from February 20 - March 12 in the Mattress Factory Lobby.

Running Time: 35 minutes
FROM THE ARTIST // The last few years my art and music practice has come to incorporate dance. Recently I began studying early American rhythmic dance styles, precursors to tap dance and clogging, like buck and flatfoot. These late 19th-early 20th century Southern and Mountain styles immediately reminded me of the way churchgoers would "dance in the spirit" throughout my upbringing in a Pentecostal church in Texas. The cheerful, driving rhythm of these early folk styles are not unlike the clap-on-the-upbeat, tambourine-fueled gospel of my childhood. While secular dance and "worldly" music were prohibited, church members were still encouraged to explore dance's cathartic qualities, though warned to avoid sexualized movements – "dancing in the flesh." This line between the spirit and the flesh, sacred versus secular, is a common struggle in the history of gospel as it grapples to deny and contend with its inseparable evil twin, the blues (and its offspring, rock and roll, soul, etc.).

Jenn Gooch is a multi-media artist and musician from Texas, living and working in Pittsburgh, PA. Her web-based community project One Cold Hand received international press, including USA Today and NPR. She recently ran a tailoring and textile studio, WERK, where she began Gender-Neutral Learn-to-Sew, a free workshop made possible in part part by a Seed Award from The Sprout Fund. Jenn is a multi-instrumental musician and singer/songwriter who dances flatfoot and fiddles with her band, Gift Horse. She received her MFA from Carnegie Mellon University.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

RECAP // Mini-Factory: SOUND!

Exploring SOUND at the Mattress Factory on a snowy day proved to be fun and insightful! What sounds do we hear outside? What sounds do we hear inside?  Why do artists use SOUND to create art?  Mini-Factory used these questions to jump into the art of SOUND.  By placing red pigment on top of two speakers, Rolf Julius’ Red helps the viewer see the vibrations of SOUND.
Next we explored Danny Bracken’s installation which is part of the exhibition Artists in Residence.  This piece is perfect for exploring the senses- there's grass, rocks, and even a rainbow! Yet like so many of his pieces, there is a component of music which accompanies the visual and tactile experience.  Students placed their hands over their ears to silence the SOUND in the gallery, and discused whether this made for any changes in how we approach the art. 

Wrapping up our discussion in the galleries, students were led into the Education Studio where we played musical chairs with a twist – while various types of music played our young artists painted, when the music stopped, the painting stopped.  How did the music influence your brush strokes? Your imagination?  Not only were the kids bouncing their knees to the beat, but their painting changed with the contrasting music. SOUND can be very influential in how we approach making and viewing art.
Mini-Factory is a FREE interactive learning program for children ages 3 - 5 years old and their parents or caregivers. There is a limited space available so RSVP to education@mattress.orgUsing contemporary installation art, parents and children will explore new ideas and concepts from the everyday world.  Join us on February 28, 2015 from 10 - 11am to learn about SENSES

Monday, February 16, 2015

RECAP // Coffee Dates with Benjamin Sota

Saturday, February 14th marked the first edition of Coffee Dates, with special guest Benjamin Sota. MF Members made their way through the snow to the museum to enjoy a warm cup of coffee with Ben.

Benjamin Sota is an artist presenting work in the Mattress Factory's current exhibition Artists in Residence, on view through Spring 2015. He is the Founder and Artistic Director of Zany Umbrella Circus; an Assistant Professor of physical theater, movement and circus at Coastal Carolina University; and has taught and performed in places such as Jordan, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and the White House.

After introductions, Benjamin began the Coffee Date with a story about the history of circus. He talked about his many experiences traveling the globe and the idea of "social circus." Members got to hear his side of his experience working at the Mattress Factory. Explaining that his work on the fourth floor, Damn Everything But the Circus (2014), is his first installation, he says, "I've never felt so uncomfortable as an artist. As a performer all my life, I have always been the artwork. But here, I am not the artwork. My installation is."

Join us for our next Coffee Date with Kathleen Montgomery, Saturday, March 21, 2015 at 10:30am in the MF Café. RSVP to

Friday, February 13, 2015

ALL-NEW // Teen Cooperative Program Offered!

Although the temperature is still in the single digits outside, here in the MF Education Department we can’t stop thinking about summer! Community Art Lab classes are almost full and we just finished selecting the teaching artists who will be involved with our completely revamped summer teen program, SUMMER ART COOPERATIVE.

Kevin Clancy's inflatable space.

The SUMMER ART CO-OP is an all-new program focused on collaboration, creative practice and exploration. It’s modeled after our artist in residence program and gives teens the support and space they need to develop new ideas, experiment with materials and collaborate with each other.

Teens will work together over the course of a month to plan their own event, while also spending time in the galleries, utilizing the museum’s resources and gaining exposure to local artists, independent thinkers, and all-around creative people through a series of workshops and skill shares. 
Drawing done by Nate McDonough.

Our hope for the program is that it is a little radical, kind of kooky and potentially-life changing—showcasing some of the infinite number of ways there are to exist as a creative person in the world. We think the idea of a starving artist needs a revamp, and our goal is to bring in folks who have figured out how to sustain their creative practices in ways that feel genuine, exciting and earnest to share their expertise with our students.

Want to learn about inflatable utopian spaces? You’ll get to meet Kevin Clancy and learn more about how to create portable social spaces. Want to know how to organize an alley-cat (or what an alley-cat is!)? Meet Anna-Lena Kempen who knows all about bike-related fun, events and art. Thinking about how to run a community engaged screen-printing shop? You’ll get to make some prints with Leslie Stem. What about how to cut records and make a communal mix tape? Learn all about it with Frederick Arnold. How pickles are made? We’ll make our own with Caiti Sullivan. How to make your comics look killer? Do some drawing with Nate McDonough. That and a lot more in store for our teens this summer.
Photo by Carson Davis Brown.

SUMMER ART CO-OP is FREE but you have to apply.

Please contact with any questions or to submit an application.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

RECAP // Factory 500: Preservation Technologies

The Factory 500 member group visited Preservation Technologies in Cranberry on Saturday, January 24th for a behind-the-scenes tour of the facilities.

Preservation Technologies provides custom preservation, deacidification solutions, and digitization products and services for print and audiovisual materials for libraries, archives and businesses worldwide.

Vice President Bob Strauss gave the members an overview of the work Preservation Technologies does in the "Bookkeeper" and the "MediaPreserve" sections. Bob, and two of his co-workers, Diane and Hannah, divided the group and toured them around to each section of the building.

The evening concluded at Off the Hook restaurant down the road in Warrendale, where Factory 500 members enjoyed wine and a delicious selection of fish entrees.

Thank you to everyone who came to Preservation Technologies on January 24th. You can see more photos from this event, and past Factory 500 events, on our Flickr page.

Factory 500 is the Mattress Factory's premiere membership program, chaired by Susan Lammie. The group tours private collections, artist studios, local businesses, and other interesting arts destinations in Pittsburgh several times throughout the year. Don't miss out -- join today!

See you at our next event!
Membership Coordinator