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Exploring Pittsburgh's Legacy of Steel

·2 mins

This article is part of our Museums special section about how institutions are striving to offer their visitors more to see, do and feel.

If there is one word that defines Pittsburgh, it is steel.

Steel is in Pittsburgh’s DNA. It’s embedded in the name of the city’s football team and is the source of the industrial wealth that put Pittsburgh on the map.

This month, steel is being celebrated in a different way at the city’s Carnegie Museum of Art. As part of its Forum Series of commissioned art from living artists, the museum will present ‘Land Stitches Water Sky,’ a multiton sculpture of steel by the interdisciplinary artist Marie Watt that explores the region’s industrial history with I-beams and glass. The exhibit opened April 13 and will be on display until Sept. 22.

Watt was selected because of her use of objects to tell stories and her willingness to work in partnership with the museum to produce a new and ambitious work of art. ‘We gravitated to her and her to us,’’ he said.

Watt, a member of the Seneca Nation, tries through her work to connect the past with the present and to find links among disparate communities. Steel fits right in with her vision: It was steel from Pittsburgh that helped build the Empire State Building and the George Washington Bridge in New York, and many other famous structures. And it was Mohawk Native Americans, who have been celebrated in her past works, who worked on many of those projects, earning them the moniker ‘skywalkers’ for their daring feats on steel beams.

‘We are looking at the intersection of steel and Pittsburgh history,’ Watt said in a video interview. ‘After learning more about the industry and its origins in Pittsburgh, I’ve been thinking more about the impact of steel on the community here and how it intersects with my own understanding.’