Bridging the Gap
Tresa Varner teaches CAPA students they can connect
with a career in the
Varner says students and staff at Pittsburgh’s
High School for the Creative and Performing Arts
(CAPA) have been walking through
the hallways in a happy daze, still overwhelmed by
the contrast between their new downtown digs and
their dilapidated former home.
Varner has been teaching students from CAPA for three
years. It’s part of her job as assistant curator
of education at The Andy Warhol Museum.
Until the new CAPA building was completed, students
had to travel to The Andy Warhol Museum to learn
about photographic silkscreen printing. Not only
did it allow
them to learn more about Warhol and how a museum
functions, it also gave them access to printmaking
equipment their school didn’t have. Because most
of Warhol’s art involved printmaking, hands-on
access is important to understanding his artistic
Students would come to the museum to look at and
discuss Warhol’s artwork and then go to Artists Image
Resource (AIR), a master printmaking studio on the
North Side (within walking distance from The Warhol),
to print in a professional artist’s studio.
This is part of a long-standing partnership between
few Pittsburgh Public Schools, The Warhol, and AIR.
The goal of the partnership is to provide opportunities
for students to work with professional artists in
professional settings. Varner is an artist herself,
and her studio
is located at AIR.
Now, Varner, who was hired by CAPA as an adjunct
faculty member, can show students a thing or two
on their own
fancy turf. And with the two facilities in walking
distance of one another, she can easily get students
to The Warhol for extracurricular activities.
Another happy side effect of the school’s relocation
and transformation is the installation of a new studio
that ends CAPA’s two-year printmaking hiatus
and returns the subject to its core visual arts curriculum.
The fully equipped studio is designed to integrate
lithography, intaglio, and other traditional forms
with the latest digital technology.
Varner, who has a master’s degree in painting
and printmaking, is excited about getting her hands
inky in the school’s new studio. She’s
one of several professional artists CAPA brings in
to teach its specialty subjects.
The printmaking that I’m teaching is really something
that is taught in college,” she says. “I’m
teaching them photographic silk-screen, and start to
finish, they’re doing it all right there in the
building. Everything’s digital, which is really
amazing. There are colleges that don’t have this
capacity,” she says.
The Warhol had already established partnerships with
CAPA and Schenley High School, Warhol’s alma
mater, and had built a successful program called Youth
Invasion, an annual event organized, developed, and
implemented by a production team of area teens that
includes students from private, parochial, and non-city
schools. But there’s always a core group of CAPA
kids, who sometimes segue into internships at The Warhol
to explore a specific interest—whether that
is print-making, conservation, fund-raising, or other
During Youth Invasion, the students take over the
entire museum to stage a variety of activities, including
a juried art show with works chosen by a museum curator.
The top pieces are hung in the museum.
The Warhol’s educational programs encompass students
from other disciplines as well. When the exhibition
Without Sanctuary appeared at the museum, CAPA’s
literary art students discussed racial lynching in
America, then wrote monologues. Theater arts students
from CAPA turned the monologues into plays, and the
visual arts students created a huge, multi-paneled
piece that served as a backdrop for some of the performed
“I’ve met some really incredible kids through
this program,” says Varner. “I don’t
see them as average students. They’re incredibly
creative and very self-motivated for their age.”
Many of the students had to push themselves to develop
their artistic abilities because they did not receive
any formal art training prior to attending CAPA.
curriculum is rigorous and demanding, and the students
tackle it with enthusiasm. They’re not about
just turning in their assignments and going home.
These kids are stopping me in the hallway and asking
how they can make their drawing better or add a certain
color or texture to their print because they just want
to know,” says Varner.
The museum’s goal is to become a classroom
for CAPA students and to write curricula that can
with other museums.
From the school’s point of view,” Varner
says, “the way they talk about it is ‘We’ve
got a museum in our hip pocket.’
They’re as excited as The Warhol is. It’s
this link, and now it’s like this link is a bridge—me.”
All About Jackie and JFK
Good Fridays Focus on Famous First Couple
During the Kennedy presidency, Jackie
Bouvier Kennedy was an idyllic woman of beauty, mystery,
and grace. Her elegance, look, and qualities became
measures of American icons and ideals. She clearly
marked the era of “Camelot” in America.
January 16: The Warhol’s Good Fridays program
celebrates Jackie and is a tribute to her magnificence.
The Evening Factory is all about creative thinking
and experimentation. It is an event that offers visitors
the opportunity to play and work all night long just
as Warhol did in his New York studio, the Silver Factory.
Bob Jackson, Dallas Times Herald Collection.
Courtesy The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.
Make and take home a silkscreen print of Jackie; become
Jackie by having your photo taken in the photo booth
wearing her signature pillbox hat, jacket and gloves;
watch her tour of the White House; or just adore her
up close as you tour the exhibition, November 22, 1963:
Image, Memory, Myth.
Make plans to stop by and print ‘til you drop,
listen to music, have something to drink, be a Super
Star, or just relax in the creative vibe that will
encompass The Warhol from 5-9 p.m. All visitors are
welcome. No reservations are necessary, and the program
is free with museum admission.
January 30: Gary Mack, curator at The Sixth Floor
Museum at Dealey Plaza, in Dallas, Texas, will visit
The Andy Warhol Museum and take part in a question-and-answer
session with Bob Hoover, book editor for The Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette. Their discussion will focus on the JFK
assassination and related conspiracy theories.
February 13: To learn more about JFK’s famous
First Lady, plan to attend a lecture at 7 p.m. titled
The 1960s: Jackie & Fashion. David Lubin, professor
of Art at Wake Forest University, whose book Shooting
Kennedy: JFK and the Culture of Images was released
November 2003, will present his lecture, Chanel & Dallas,
November 22, 1963: A Portrait of Jackie Kennedy.
Lubin will explore the cultural significance of the
Chanel suit, the happy couple, and the Kennedy era.
A 1960s women's fashion show, coordinated by Richard
Parsakian of EONS Fashion Antique in Pittsburgh, will
follow the lecture at 8:30 p.m. The fashion show is
free with museum admission.
Off the Wall Series Begins Fourth Season
programmers at The Andy Warhol Museum came up with
the term Off the Wall to describe its
art series, they certainly knew the definitions of
that slang phrase ranged from “extremely unconventional” to “strange,
bizarre, wacky, over the top” and “without
But it could also be regarded in a literal
sense, as in moving art from walls to stages— an
appropriate interpretation for a museum.
Now entering its fourth year, the Off the Wall
series might fit each of those descriptions—or
none at all.
And that’s the point.
The goal is to stretch imaginations via a slate
of boundary-busting performances available nowhere
in Pittsburgh—a suitable function
for a museum housing the works of a forward-thinking
artist who also moved art from walls to more malleable
The Off the Wall performances begin January
17 with Instructions for Forgetting by the British
group Forced Entertainment. Written and performed
by artistic director Tim Etchells, this work
is described as “part intimate essay, part fragmented
letters, home movies, and interviews, Etchells
delves into personal history as it fits into the larger
of cultural history. His multi-media performance
documentary explores video “as a container for
image and memory.”
Tim Etchells, artistic director
for Forced Entertainment.
An Evening with Sekou Sundiata is slated
for February 21. When Ani DiFranco invited poet/performer
on her 2001 tour, she labeled the outing “Rhythm
and News,” after the term Sundiata
uses to describe his merger of poetry with
blues, jazz, soul, Afro-Caribbean,
and hip-hop beats. Sundiata’s commentary
touches on issues, attitudes, and pop-culture
icons as filtered
through the consciousness of an African-American “ritual
poet” and former late-‘60s/early-‘70s
March 6 and 7, Off the Wall leaves The Warhol’s
walls for those of downtown’s Hilton Hotel, where
the New York City Players will perform Richard Maxwell’s
play, Showcase. In a microscopic look at a slice of
one man’s life, the play examines the
psyche of a businessman endeavoring to connect
hotel-room thoughts with those in the world
around him. The six performances will occur
in an actual
guest room, which will give viewers a sense
they might not experience on a regular stage.
Other upcoming shows include an evening with
narrative poet Dael Orlandersmith on April
New Paradise Laboratories’ performance
of Stupor, April 24; and the May 22 and 23
of Off the Wall
veteran Tim Miller with his new creation,
Full subscriptions (6 performances) to Off
the Wall performances are available to Carnegie
Pittsburgh members at the discounted rate
of $72. Four-pack and
three-pack subscriptions and single tickets
are also available at discounts for members.
Warhol Museum at 412.237.8300 for tickets
and more information.
Funding for The Warhol's performing arts programming
was provided by the James H. Beal Fund, Jack and
Tally McKee Memorial Fund, and Samuel and Carrie
Arnold Weinhaus Memorial Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation.
Special thanks to guest curator, Mark Russell at
P.S. 122 in New York. Media sponsors are Pittsburgh
City Paper and 91.3 FM WYEP.
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