Project Mon Valley

Artist

Aaron Henderson

Date

2020–2021

Location

Braddock, PA

Collaborating Organization

North Braddock Residents For Our Future

Introduction

Launching to the public in late 2020, Project Mon Valley is a temporary public artwork created by artist Aaron Henderson as part of the Office of Public Art’s Environment, Health, and Public Art Initiative. Henderson was selected to collaborate with North Braddock Residents For Our Future (NBRFOF) in 2019 to develop and implement a creative project that addresses environmental issues that have been plaguing Braddock for years.

Research & Process

Henderson began his research for this collaborative endeavor through discussions with NBRFOF, Braddock site visits, and by attending meetings for Merrion Oil and Gas’s proposed gas wells at United States Steel Edgar Thomson Works with NBRFOF members.

The project aims to raise awareness of the environmental challenges affecting communities in the Mon Valley. This unprecedented time raises questions about relationships with our friends, neighbors, communities, governments, industries and the environment. Henderson will work with people from these communities to create public projections that respond to their situation and experience.

Project Phases

The project will launch in three phases. Each phase will consist of a series of 3–7 individual site-specific projections.

The first phase will feature a series of questions and facts that highlight the environmental issues facing the residents of the Mon Valley. Henderson will develop these texts and statements from press releases and news sources.

In the second phase, Henderson will share stories of individuals within the community, building upon the information learned from the first phase. As currently envisioned, these projections will be more personal and may be projected onto the houses and apartments of the people telling the stories.

The third and final phase of these projections will consist of a series of outdoor projections that rethink, collage, and/or combine the elements of the first two phases, as Henderson iterates upon and responds to the successes of the first two phases.

Industrial pollution is threatening the health of this community. Project Mon Valley attempts to make visible some of the invisible threats faced every day by the residents of Braddock. It is a call for understanding and action as we all fight for cleaner air, water and soil.

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About the Artist

Aaron Henderson’s photographs, videos, and installations engage in an ongoing critique of our relationship to spectacle, technology and performance. He believes that it is only through a thorough examination of ourselves—and our culture—that we can discover what we were, what we are, and what we are becoming. Well acquainted with movement, he threw himself into walls and off platforms for STREB Extreme Action, an acrobatic performance company from 2002-6. His videos and installations have been presented at the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Wexner Center, and many other museums and galleries in the United States, Europe and Asia. His projection designs have been presented at Lincoln Center, the Andy Warhol Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston) and theaters and festivals around the world. Aaron is an Associate Professor in the Department of Studio Arts at the University of Pittsburgh. (Image Credit: Suzanne Hojnick)

About the Collaborating Organization

North Braddock Residents For Our Future (NBRFOF) is an all-volunteer, grassroots group of residents organized to promote community health and clean air, and fight unconventional gas drilling in their community. NBRFOF came together in 2014 to resist proposed unconventional gas wells at the Grandview Golf Course, North Braddock, Pennsylvania. Working closely with North Braddock council members, residents and business owners NBRFOF was able to defeat the placement of unconventional gas wells at Grandview Golf Course through zoning changes. NBRFOF stepped up their efforts in 2017 to resist Merrion Oil and Gas’s proposed unconventional gas wells at United States Steel (USS) Edgar Thomson Works (ET Works).

Image credits

All images and photos courtesy the artist

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Nine Mile Run Viewfinder

A portal for seeing, hearing, and smelling the waterway beneath our feet, this artwork by Ginger Brooks Takahashi was created to bring attention to the connections between Nine Mile Run, the stormwater and sewer systems, the Monongahela River, and the water we drink.

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