Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Exhibit Highlights 7 Artists from Northern Ireland

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Exhibit Highlights 7 Artists from Northern Ireland

Article excerpt

Seven artists from Northern Ireland came to Pittsburgh to create unique work on location to display specifically at the Mattress Factory.

The result is "so it is," an exhibition that opened April 7 and runs through Aug. 8 at the galleries at 1414 Monterey St., North Side. It's filled with disparate pieces without a definite united theme. It begins with a functional souvenir shop where nearly every item is for sale. By the end of the exhibition, the pieces all tie together, but it's still hard to identify an underlying connection.

"It was never going to be totally coherent, because you have seven different people doing their own thing regardless of whatever the other people are doing," said John Carson, art professor at Carnegie Mellon University and curator of "so it is."

Mr. Carson said he chose these artists - Ursula Burke, Willie Doherty, Rita Duffy, John Kindness, Locky Morris, Philip Napier and Paul Seawright - based on their earlier work during the "Troubles," a 30-year conflict fought over the separation of Ireland and the status of Northern Ireland in the U.K.

"Their work was courageous at a time back home when people were struggling to find ways of connecting their artwork to the political situation," he said. "These people managed to find ways of doing that. They were making intelligent, provocative, thoughtful statements about a very difficult circumstance."

Many of the artists, such as Ms. Duffy, drew from previous work, adapting it to relate to the U.S. and Pittsburgh, while others used similar themes but made almost entirely new art for the Mattress Factory.

"The Souvenir Shop," created by Ms. Duffy, opens the exhibition and is filled with historical and political messages. Paintings on pieces of coal - of melting icebergs, diseased lungs and wind turbines, to name some - protest climate change, while throw pillows feature American civil rights movement figures and quotes, highlighting the influence of that movement in the Irish civil rights movement that same decade.

"I think politics in America at the moment is, to say the least, worrying," said Ms. …

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