Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Visitors Have Good Day at Black Rock Sculpture Targets Negative Energy

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Visitors Have Good Day at Black Rock Sculpture Targets Negative Energy

Article excerpt

Something kind of weird, it seemed, was happening in the middle of the lawn at Point State Park on Saturday just after 1 p.m. A crowd of about 50 people had formed an arc around a robed minister who paced almost gingerly speaking of hope, possibility and love "in a hard world filled with hate."

In the background stood a 25-foot tall rock with curves, crevices, a gap and a peak.

As the Rev. Scott Rudolph of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the North Hills summoned a now-growing crowd's attention, he called out, "Healer, please turn on the Black Rock!"

A lithe figure approached wearing a black body suit and a black, extraterrestrial headpiece made of papier-mache. He began touching the rock, circling it, laying himself into it, folding himself against it, leaning on it with outstretched hands and, finally climbing to a crevice, pointing to the cloudy sky and beckoning people to come near.

Several hundred people by then had assembled to witness the turning-on ceremony of artist Rudy Shepherd's "Black Rock Negative Energy Absorber" at the Three Rivers Arts Festival.

A tongue-in-cheek presentation of a rock imbued with the magical power to relieve humanity of the burden of negative energy, the piece overlays whimsy with a political statement about the state of the human condition.

Mr. Shepherd, 40, an assistant professor of art at Penn State University, was chosen to produce his work as one of four large installations in Point State Park during the 10-day festival, which began Friday.

He was joined by Elia Einhorn, his musical collaborator on the organ, for the ceremony Saturday.

"I've done a bunch of these and it's always been tongue-in- cheek," Mr. Shepherd said during an interview. "But if it gets you to start thinking, it is political art and I've always worked in the realm of political art. This project came out of criticism of political art. …

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