Photographs of 150 Pittsburgh residents will soon be featured on the front exterior of the August Wilson Center as part of the “Humanae” online art project. The work, by Brazilian artist Angelica Dass, will be part of the Humanae project that has been showcased in numerous places, from Chicago to Madrid to two cities in Africa.
“Humanae” features more than 2,500 photos of residents from all over the world set in public spaces. The photos set individuals against a Pantone color to match the skin tone of their faces and bare shoulders–hence the nickname, The Pantone Project.
“I AM AUGUST,” the Pittsburgh chapter of the exhibit, is being produced by Janera Solomon, executive director of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater. The Magenta Foundation partnered with the Kelly Strayhorn Theater to help adapt the project to Pittsburgh with additional support from the Pittsburgh Foundation.
They are seeking 150 local volunteers to be photographed for the project from July 22-25. Individuals of all ages and backgrounds can schedule an appointment to participate by being photographed and interviewed.
The display will be unveiled September 25 as a part of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Gallery Crawl and will remain on the windows of the August Wilson Center until August 2016.
Participants will also be asked in-depth questions about the communities and neighborhoods they come from and their personal experiences there. When the exhibit eventually moves indoors, the interviews will be paired with individual photos, allowing the project to take full advantage of the opportunity to engage residents.
Deesha Philyaw, who is working with Solomon as a project manager, explains the timely significance of the exhibit. The art project, she says, “explores issues of race and helps communities create conversations of race, which is obviously quite important nationally right now.”
The project reflects past community conversations held through the August Wilson Recovery Advisory Committee concerning why people of all backgrounds should care about the center. Regardless of race, background or occupation, there’s something for everyone to take away from the coming exhibit, notes Philyaw.
She recalls an August Wilson quote in which he said he could write about the black experience forever, explaining the universality of black culture and that “there’s no idea in the world that is not contained by black life.” Now the center that shares his name will reflect a similar message through the Humanae art project.
“Literally on the building it will show that we are all part of this community and that we should all care about this center,” says Philyaw.
The theme fits a city like Pittsburgh which identifies strongly with its neighborhoods and boroughs. It’s a theme that also runs through Wilson’s work where the Hill District often became a character in weaving stories of community.
The project is expected to breathe life back into the center, where for so long there was a concern for the building’s future, says Philyaw.
“We as a community care about what happens through this building and this project is a big first step to fully realize the vision of a center named for August Wilson.”