Friday, December 11, 2009

Hope everyone comes to the opening tomorrow,
Saturday, December 12 from 2-4pm.

Great day of installing the exhibition at the Mattress Factory.

Friday, December 4, 2009

PGH Green Bridge Project: Press Release

The Pittsburgh-Green-Bridge Project is providing an opportunity for budding artists in PIttsburgh. This opportunity encourages the creation of effective, environmentally sensitive artwork.  The Pittsburgh-Green-Bridge Project is a collaboration between students at CAPA High School and the University of Pittsburgh, the Mattress Factory, artists Constance Merriman, JoAnna Commandaros, Karen Page, Heather White and David Pohl, and the residents of Pittsburgh’s urban community and Greenspaces.  This interdisciplinary project includes study, observation, documentation, discussion, implementation and celebration.  

The collaboration has been centered around Japanese Knotweed.  Japanese Knotweed is an invasive species not native to Pittsburgh, and is currently impacting Schenley Park. The groups teamed with restoration ecologists to clear a pathway and collect the knotweed.  An installation reflecting the experience of the artists, students and the community will be exhibited at the Mattress Factory.

The opening for the show is on December 12th from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm in the lobby of the Mattress Factory.  The show will  be open for viewing on December 13th from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

14001 Tropaeolum, Clematis 340

13937 Tropaeolum majus 320

13999 Tropaeolum, Clematis 340

Postcard Design (Front)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Story of Cap and Trade

The Story of Cap and Trade

What is The Story of Cap & Trade?

The Story of Cap & Trade is a fast-paced, fact-filled look at the leading climate solution being discussed at Copenhagen and on Capitol Hill. Host Annie Leonard introduces the energy traders and Wall Street financiers at the heart of this scheme and reveals the "devils in the details" in current cap and trade proposals: free permits to big polluters, fake offsets and distraction from what’s really required to tackle the climate crisis. If you’ve heard about cap and trade, but aren’t sure how it works (or who benefits), this is the film is for you.

Posted using ShareThis

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

PGH Green Bridge on Flickr

Don't forget that we now have a Flickr Pro account, so you
can upload as many photos as you want (and 60 second videos as well)

Front postcard designs by Zoe

Back postcard design by Aeron

Dec. 2, 2009 at CAPA - making knotweed paper and working on a giant "mother earth with knotweed" puppet

Hello Folks,
I am posting this for the students as we are having difficulty accessing the blogspot at CAPA --
we can see some of the images and the posts but are having a hard time posting.

So, today the students made some knotweed paper. We are using the Hollander beater. First
we made some cotton pulp and then added some knotweed pieces. Later we added some flax
pulp as well. Maybe tomorrow we will try to make 100% knotweed pulp!

Connie visited today and was extremely helpful with her suggestions for the "image" of the mother
nature sculpture that will become a paper mache head for our giant puppet. Also, we discussed the
ongoing "saga" of our installation. The CAPA kids will make the knotweed path -- we can
add the puzzle pieces as well as crushed knotweed and maybe some "turtle" shells made of
paper mache. The giant puppet - if we get it done - can great the visitors outside in the
parking lot.

We also discussed the use of the knotweed paper -- oh, so many ideas . . . so little time!!!!

The CAPA kids want to return to Schenley Park to make a "illuminated" performance piece of
students walking through the hillside drawing. We are trying to make that possible.

Meanwhile, Connie also suggested that we consider photos from the first two knotweed
gathering sessions.

Personally, I think that all of this is proceeding very well --and once again, I ENCOURAGE EVERYONE
TO BLOG!!!! We are screen-printing patches and posters . . . . making knotweed paper, stamping on
knotweed branches to break it into smaller pieces for the path . . . . KNOTWEED, KNOTWEED, KNOTWEED--
DARN IT, I'm seeing it in my dreams . . . .

Two students made great designs for the announcement today. While several others have been
creating images that we can screen-print onto poster or patches for the opening.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Stop Invasive Species Tee Shirt Design.De

Stop Invasive species... T shirt logo or something... maybe a banner... or nothing at all....

Making paper pulp

Today at CAPA the students reviewed ideas for the installation. I talked about some big puppets that were made several years ago that do not exist any longer -- we looked all over the school. Previously, one idea had been to make a large female figure,
Mother Nature, and cover her with a knotweed blanket. Today, as I recalled the puppet, we discussed the option to make a
large (Cheryl Capozotti-like style) puppet that could welcome visitors to the installation. Just an idea . . . .

Meanwhile, I'm posting these ideas for the students because they cannot post ideas at school unles they use my iPhone. We can see the blog but cannot access it. Working out the logistics . . . . (tsing took the photos . . .)

So here is a photo of making paper pulp. Tomorrow we hope to add the knotweed pieces, run them through the Hollander beater and see what happens.

We don't have any specific ideas as to how this will or will not be incorporated into the exhibition. It's just FUN!
There's always beeswax, rust, and rabbit-skin glue . . . who knows what will happen!
Last Tuesady the students proposed that we should all reconsider the negative space drawing that was created in the park. It is central to our experience of being eco artists because by making the cutting of the Knotweed, we were acting to make art that improved the environment. We thought that we should go back to the park and place staw on the path that the drawing made. We thought we should make a video of the students walking the path and that video should be an important part of the show at the mattress factory.

QUESTION: because we must get permission from the park to go back and to spread the straw- what should be do if we do not get permission to spread the straw or to work in the park again?
How do we bring the park into the gallery setting?
-Could we use blow ups of pictures of the double helix drawing?and pictures of the before and after of the Knotweed hillside/ Could these stand in for a video of the students walking the path in the park?
-Could we focus on the forest of hanging knotweed in installation, and simulate the path we cut into the knotweed by covering the floor of the gallery in front of the hanging knotweed with knotweed twigs. Then clearing a path through it in the design we used in the park?
- Could we draw attention to the path by placing handmade paper bowls in bright colors to outline the path. Could the bowls be filled with seeds of native plants- to offer the concept that when the knotweed is cleared- then the native plants bring the environment into ballance.
-Could we do something else----WHAT DO YOU THINK

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mattress Factory show

Greetings all!
We have about 2 weeks to pull all of our great ideas together for the show at the MF which opens on Dec 12TH. We will able to have about 3 hours to get the show in place, so we need to think very clearly about what we want to say in the show.

What is the message?

We need to decide the message-and then how to back up the message with art elements that explains details of our new understandings.

so far- I think there is an element of explaining the density of the KW(knotweed and how it blocks out other species), and of providing an experience in which the viewers come to understand the day in the park- smells, sounds etc. Is that right.

Is there anything else we want to say????

Saturday, November 28, 2009

PGH Green Bridge on Flickr

, originally uploaded by PGH Green Bridge.
We now have a Flickr Pro account, so there's no limit to the amount
of photos that can be uploaded, or sets that we can have  there.

So post away. Remember, when you upload photos to Flickr to tag
them with "PGH Green Bridge" "eco-art" "installation art" etc...

And you can post directly to this blog from Flickr as I did with this photo.

Here's the link to PGH Green Bridge on Flickr.

Friday, November 27, 2009

I have been thinking about the path through the knotweed at the Matress Factory. Maybe when we put the path down, we could use rocks to outline the path a little, but not all the way through. If we're going to put straw down for the path, we should put turtles on the sides of the path, as they are being affected badly by the knotweed.

Wednesday, Nov. 25: At the Mattress Factory

Here we are looking at the space and trying to visualize the proposed area for the knotweed installation. After measuring a 10' x 20' rectangle, it seems that 8' wide would be much better.

The other shot is the ceiling above the rectangle. Might help for those collaborating the hanging of the knotweed pieces.

This area is towards the back of the lobby.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sketches of Hanging Knotweed

A fellow Pitt student and I sketched out ideas to hang the knotweed. We would like to have the knotweed attached to 1 foot squares (of paper or something sturdier, perhaps cardboard), in such a pattern as can be seen in the "top view" sketch. Knotweed would hang sparsely around the perimeter, and become denser toward the middle. The room is divided in half to leave space for the other portion of the exhibition. The image labeled "Knotweed Exhibition" shows a projected view of half of the room. We really need to know the exact dimensions of the site, taking into consideration the the perimeter of walking space necessary around the piece (not depicted in the drawings) and also the distance between the floor and ceiling, in order to proceed.

In the photos of the site posted on the flickr account, there seem to be some relatively large cylindrical pipes against the ceiling. Would we be hanging the knotweed around these? The last sketch is a rough proposal to take those pipes into consideration.

I think we need to go check out the site again and get some exact dimensions and also note the condition of the ceiling, or perhaps ask the friendly staff at the MF if they know these dimensions off hand.

Hope everyone is stuffing their bellies with stuffing today!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I have a lot of ideas for the piece

1. Cages that will have the species of plants and animals that are native to the area where the knotweed is growing. To symbolize how the knotweed constricts them.
2. A yellow brick road that is under the forest that the Pitt students are working on that will guide people into the knotweed.
3. T-Shirts with the phrase "I can't believe it's Knot Weed" (by Jakob Short)
4. Posters promoting our piece of a spaceship full of knotweed abducting flyers that a guy made to show people how bad invasive species are.

Brainstorming the Knotweed Project

Brain activity at CAPA!

Connie and David joined the CAPA students for a brain-storming session about the progress of the knotweed project - - the installation at the Mattress Factory and the design for the announcement. 

Here's a synopsis for the Pitt students so that we can build a creative and collaborative piece.

Ideas for the installation:
- the students at Pitt had presented the idea for a piece at the Mattress Factory, it involves
suspending approximately 500 sticks of knotweed in a 10' x 20' area so that the
sticks would create the feeling of walking or pushing one's way through the weeds--such as
the students experienced while clearing the knotweed off the hillside in Schenley Park

- how will all of these pieces be suspended? The CAPA kids have 3 hours on Friday, December 11 to work on the installation. Let's discuss and think this through before
hand so that when we can get  there and we can just do it!

- both groups of students have made or are making "puzzle" pieces:  organic-shaped sketches using the knotweed as a means of making lines, mark making, collage, etc.
These pieces will be part of the installation -- may be placed on the wall, on the floor,
both ? -- also it was suggested that they could be accompanied with a "knotweed work
station/studio/table" where the visitors could also make a puzzle piece. Could be added to
the exhibition or they could take it home

- Connie reiterated that the most important piece of this project was the "drawing" in the
patch of knotweed on the hillside in Schenley Park and that the fact of eco-art is to be
in the environment and to be viewer friendly and participatory. With that in mind, through
brainstorming - it was suggested that we re-visit the site, add hay to make the drawing
more visible within the patch, and then create a performance piece.

- Performance in the "Knotweed Patch"

Students and participants would have flashlights (candles would be beautiful but probably
to dangerous) and would walk through the drawing at dusk or later. Video and photography
would accompany this event. Images could be added to the installation.
Also suggested was a sound element - recording the crunching of branches while walking
through the patch

-  Photo images and video from the performance event could be displayed for the exhibition
(I can have large images printed for a great price --  3'x5')

Students present ideas for hillside sketch

Sketch for path through the knotweed

Brainstorming continued! Knotweed Floor-Drawing/Path

The CAPA students are presenting the idea to re-create the "dna" drawing on the floor of the gallery underneath the suspended patch of knotweed sticks. 

-One idea would be to mark the path by using brown-paper bag luminaries - but we will need to ask the MF re. fire hazard regulations

- Other ideas for a "lighted" pathway could be battery operated flicker luminaries,
or a string of lights, or . . . . . .?

- Pieces of knotweed, or the puzzle pieces, or both could be placed on the floor in the
negative space to help define the drawing

Ideas for announcement and/or poster

 The students selected several sketches that could be developed for the announcement and a poster. This one received the most votes. The basic idea being that the knotweed roots
would be replaced by a tree. I think that the student needs to write a comment about her
idea. What do we think about developing this idea? Other suggestions? DNA hillside drawing?


- the printed announcement could just contain text and no image

- refer to David's layout with the "green" bridges
- text over, within, or between the green areas
- image combined with the green areas

Okay guys, we need the design for the card to be completed by Monday, November 30.
Submit your design for discussion, comments and critique (if you want it) and then we'll vote on the final designs.

Other ideas: t-shirts, patches, buttons . . . .

Here is one idea for t-shirt design: Squirrel (but a turtle could be kool, too)
Make the animal out of knotweed - photo screen-print design onto t-shirts, etc.

Other design ideas:  I think that the students need to add their comments to explain their

I've posted these images and ideas -- now it's your turn!!!!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

PGH Green Bridge: Postcard & Poster design

When I set up this blog I quickly designed
a simple header for the top. I knew a little bit
about the project~ that one of it's core ideas,
is to build a bridge between two green spaces.
So I decided a simple 3 panel image where
the type could be placed would suffice, and I
would use a simple palette of greens for the
background and the type. The two green boxes
are connected by the space in the middle.
The white space could represent a bridge.

I imagined that this header could be used as
a springboard for other design ideas about
connection(s). And I imagined that students 
would redesign the header after there was some 
imagery that could be used to fill in those green 

The type could be rearranged in a variety of ways: Stacked
upon each other, running all togther in one box, etc...

As we begin to think about a design for the postcard
and or poster, it would be useful to think about how
we could go about branding the PGH Green Bridge

A brand is a name or trademark connected with a product or producer.[1] Brands have become increasingly important components of culture and the economy, now being described as "cultural accessories and personal philosophies". Souce: Wikipedia

So I have come up with a similar layout which could be developed along
with the header. It is based on the same 3 boxes which represent the concept
of connection. The size is based on a standard postcard size of 4 x 6 inches,
but a poster could be made increased in size but keeping the same dimensions.
(For example: 12 x 18")

Along with a brief description of the project, (Connie will provide this or we'll
use what is already on the blog) the card needs to contain the following information...

The Mattress Factory PGH Green Bridge Project was made possible by support from the Surdna Foundation. Education programs at the Mattress Factory are supported by the Allegheny Regional Asset District, Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, The Grable Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Richard King Mellon Foundation, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

~ David

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Tuesday at CAPA

Hello folks,
This coming Tuesday, November 24, David Pohl and Connie Merriman will be coming in to talk to the kids about the concept and design of the flyer/announcement for the upcoming exhibit at the Mattress Factory. All students are invited -- esp. the Pitt students. If you can attend this session, it is from 1pm to about 2:30 or so with some time to collaborate in the printmaking studio. Also, we will be posting ideas on this blog site.

Meanwhile I am also posting a link to an African artist whose work we have looked at. His name is El Anatsui and can be found on Google images and the web. There is an article about his work in a fairly recent issue of the New York Times Sunday Magazine.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

David speaking about effective installation space

Day # 3 - Working with Knotweed

Show Announcement / Postcard

Hi everyone~

As you know we need to come up with an announcement or a postcard for the Mattress,
Factory exhibit which is coming up fairly soon.  Below is an email from the
Education Director at the MF with some specific details of what text will need to go
on the announcement, and some general questions/ things to consider.

Hi David,

The information really needs to come from the collective partners; The title of the show, a blurb of what it is about, etc.
This may be tricky because there are different groups.

What the MF would supply is:
Our logo, and the Surdna Logo- I'll get that to you
          Location: Mattress Factory Lobby
Opening Reception, Saturday, December 12 from  2:00 to 4:00 ( I suggested this time and haven't' heard either way that it was okay so I am assuming it is) December 13-1:00 to 5:00 (available to view work)

Does this help? Do they have a title, image, blurb to work with? Is there someone out of the partners who can facilitate this?

We can print copies here.


Last Friday at Pitt, 3 students and I came up with the idea to use actual knotweed
cuttings (about 5"-6" long) to use for a limited edition of exhibit promos. They would
be hollowed out, and then a smaller (4" by 6") flyer with all the info can be inserted
inside. These could be placed in the lobby of The Mattress Factory and elsewhere.
We were thinking about 100-150 of them. There was also some consideration to
decorating the knotweed with natural dyes, or something else?

Karen has informed me that Heather's group will also be making a poster at CAPA
in the printmaking studios. Perhaps a collaboration is possible or not, but I think it 
will be great to have different promos,posters, cards etc... created by students
of both schools.

It will be helpful to post ideas, drawings and designs on the blog for everyone to see.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009


Event Date: Friday, April 2, 2010
Where: First Friday "Unblurred" on Penn AvenuePenn Avenue Business District
Why: A Celebration of Green Industry and Tech Wizardry

Festival Statement: As Southwestern Pennsylvania's premiere Art + Technology Festival, The GAGI or Geek Art and Green Innovators Festival is platform for showcasing all that is new, unique and experimental in the green and technology industries in Pittsburgh and beyond.

We're building this festival by showcasing your ingenuity!

We're looking for:
Digital Media
Green Technology both simple and complex
Sound Experimentation

Tell us what YOU want to do!
If your submission or idea is accepted, we'll find a venue for you to do it!

RESPONSE DEADLINE: November 30, 2009 (Specifics or general interest)

For more information visit: 
Or Email 
Looking forward to hearing from you!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Stefan Sagmeister Design

For those of you working on the postcard design & the (limited edition)
knotweed promos~ take a peek at the site of a fabulous graphic designer
named Stefan Sagmeister. What I like about his work is that he blurs the line 
between fine art and design. Good design IS fine art. 

Sandstrom Design has a beautiful site, too. And their work is really smart and

Friday, November 13, 2009

brainstorming knotweed

Wall / Obstacle.

brittle, but it bends.

Sounds: like walking through leaves. 
voices of those taking down the knotweed.
Humans are the invasive species. 
Sounds of snapping knotweed. 
Students from CAPA made flutes from it. Bird sounds.
Goats like to eat it.

Aurora Robson

Aurora Robson 

Artist's Statement

I am fascinated with the malleability of matter. The forms in my work are derivative of nightmares I had when I was a child. My fodder is junk mail, litter, waste & nightmares. My job is to transform these things into art. My work is a meditative practice in alchemy, enantiodromia, positive spin, acceptance & balance.

When there is a negative or downward trajectory of motion inherent to a material, I like to focus my energy on changing that direction. For example, the work I've been doing with plastic bottles -- without intervention, used plastic bottles have basically 2 options: becoming landfill, or maybe getting recycled.  In the past year, I have intercepted approximately 30,000 bottles from the waste stream, turning them into art instead of allowing them to go into landfill, our oceans, or the environmentally costly recycling process.

Junk mail shares a similarly depressing fate with the bottles. I have transformed the activity of opening up the mail and finding a depressing mass of garbage and credit card applications into a pleasant experience wherein I am able to discover new batches of art supplies. The language, costly graphic devices and fancy printing used in junk mail also give it a persuasive, positive and personal flavor, which I prefer to use in my art. My practice is essentially about recognizing and embracing new possibilities while encouraging others to do the same.

Aurora is Canadian, but grew up in Hawaii & has lived in New York for 19 years.  She currently lives & works in Brooklyn.