Another Pittsburgh Gem

This transplant is wowed by "Imperfect Health" and the Miller Gallery

By Becky Spevack Posted on February 14, 2013

Imperfect Health-Vache_03 When I was in art school, my college held a course that focused on the life and works of Andy Warhol.  After spending a semester learning exclusively about this 20th century icon of pop-art, the class culminated in a trip to The Andy Warhol Museum to survey his archives.  This may not seem like a very big deal; after all, The Warhol Museum is right across the 9th Street Bridge from Downtown.  But I went to school in Providence, RI, so this endeavor involved a multiple-day trip across half a dozen states, all to learn more about Andy.

At the time, I had never been to Pittsburgh, nor was I planning a trip in the near future. Suffice it to say, Pittsburgh was not on my horizon, especially as a prospective future home. At age 20, I could tell you maybe three things about this city: 1. Located in Western Pennsylvania. 2. Home to The Andy Warhol Museum. 3. Home to The Mattress Factory.  Not a complete picture, I know, but at that point in my life, I was deeply focused on the contemporary art world, where museums and prestigious galleries reigned supreme.

Long story short, I ended up moving to Pittsburgh, and this past autumn, I attended the opening for a show titled Imperfect Health: The Medicalization of Architecture at the Miller Gallery.  While I had heard and read about several previous shows at this gallery, I had never taken the time to make the trip to Carnegie Mellon University’s campus, where the Miller Gallery is housed.  While listening to a talk from the visiting curators, Giovanna Boraski and Mirko Zardini, both of the Canadian Centre for Architecture, I was impressed not only with the depth and reach of this particular show, but by the space itself; three floors of pristine white, filled with imagery, sculpture, material studies, and more.  As I read through the show’s brochure, I was surprised by both the quantity and breadth of smaller events relating to this show.  Beginning with the aforementioned exhibition tour with the curators, there was also a flu vaccine clinic, events focusing on air quality, and a panel discussion: Health, Habitat, and History.

humanscale_by_henry_dreyfuss_smHealthcare is a zeitgeist-y subject, on the minds of the vast majority, a source of tension and anxiety on almost every level.  Imperfect Health seeks not to answer questions within that debate, but rather to ask its own, “are architects, urban designers, and landscape architects seeking a new moral and political agenda within these concerns?”  This exhibition aims to get under your skin, creating an uncomfortable awareness, leaving the questions open-ended while the viewer wishes for a resolution.  As the world has grown smaller, cross-disciplinary collaboration is key to staying relevant, something Miller’s curator Astria Suparak seems keenly aware.   The show is only up for a few more weeks but as a community of professionals that impacts the built environment, it is worthy of your time.

Images from Imperfect Health: Top - Installation view with cow by Andy Byers, Canadian Centre for Architecture, 2011. Photo © CCA, Montréal. Bottom - Link Measurements 1b. from Humanscale 1/2/3: A Portfolio of Information. Henry Dreyfuss Associates, designers, and Niels Diffrient, Alvin R. Tilley and Joan C. Bardagjy, authors. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1974. Collection CCA © Henry Dreyfuss Associates.

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