Mobile Sculpture Workshop needs our support

Mobile Sculpture Workshop apprentices Ben and Haydon

I read this and donated. Teens are so important! To support this apprenticeship/mentor program, what could be easier, more direct and concrete? Do our universities need support? Yes. Do our museums and libraries need support? Yes. Community Centers? Yes. But so does this grassroots group Mobile Sculpture Workshop need our financial support, a tiny yet growing art/welding/teens & mentors institution. DEFINITELY!! Teens are paid a stipend during their apprenticeship and their mentors also need our support. Why does this speak to me?

Soldering and welding is a big part of my family story, so I am happy to contribute to this program, the Mobile Sculpture Workshop. This great City Paper article tells more about them. Read it and become inspired about what they are all about. Much more inspired than my words here.

The Mobile Sculpture Workshop is for training and mentoring  high school students in the skill of welding in the Pittsburgh area with its proud history in steel. Welding has both obvious industrial application as well as sculptural, art, entrepreneurial  and maker tradition. The Mobile Sculpture Workshop program connects area high school students to mentors who are helping shape Pittsburgh’s footprint in a more artistic, and often scrappy (in the best sense) way. It is obvious that this is a great program in so many ways, and worth supporting. The Mobile Sculpture Workshop is a pilot program from Pittsburgh’s Industrial Arts Cooperative, a collective of metalworkers and sculptors who have installed many public works over the past 20 years, for instance at the Carrie Furnace  which by now most folks have heard of. What a great idea! Let’s all pitch in.

On another wavelength Carrie Furnace was also the site of filming the 2011 Antiques Roadshow segment  ‘Tough Love: Iron and Steel Jewelry.’ Producer Adam Monahan said ‘Here is some of the most elegant jewelry the world`s ever seen, and it`s fashioned out of iron and steel.’ Just another branch of the story of metals. Do I need to say the words:  Out of this Furnace?

I mentioned that soldering and welding is a big part of my family story and here are three examples.  Our son Adam Horn  2013 BFA Metals and Jewelry Design RIT, School of American Craft (with professors Leonard Urso and Carlos Caballero-Perez) was totally energized when he learned welding and working large as part of that RIT major, and would have gravitated to this program as a teen had it existed. Nearby my cousin Lynda LaRoche  retired Professor of Jewelry & Metals at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and recipient of the Niche Award (Niche is for excellence and innovation in American and Canadian fine craft) Art Educator of the Year 2011, was also an influence.  Pittsburgh resident (the awesome) Sharon Massey  now holds her former faculty position at IUP. My father Joe Skinger  Silversmith and Sculptor in Vermont was also an influence, by the presence of his work and general influence  in our lives. He was largely self taught, but also took advantage of the GI Bill studying metal working in England at the London Central School of Arts and Crafts.

I feel I can imagine how important an apprentice/mentor relationship can be for the teens who get involved with Mobile Sculpture Workshop. When I was 14, I worked for my father full time during that summer when he lost his only assistant. I spent the summer taking notes from his discussions of each design of his that I would then execute with cutting, soldering and filing, becoming familiar with his jigs and practices.  Because of the memory of this experience I can well imagine how much a teen can learn by participating in the Mobile Sculpture Workshop. Our son will remember learning to solder at a younger age at my husband John Horn’s lab.

But if you do not have access to metals instruction in high school as our son did, and you do not have family members who have pursued metals as a career, or a dad with a lab, or a GI Bill how would you be able to make that connection to melting metal, forming it and making things? We absolutely need programs like Mobile Sculpture Workshop for our young people, who cannot otherwise learn these skills except perhaps in Community College at an older age to serve the welding needs of the fracking industry. At that point they may never again have a training experience or life experience that is art related or would suggest alternative routes to application of welding skills except as it relates to industry. And yet in a way industry is what this is all about. No one says they must go into art. But teaching and learning skills of making can trigger all sorts of ideas and applications. Ideas we need.

So friends I hope you will join me by contributing in any amount possible to Mobile Sculpture Workshop. These kids are learning and getting paid a small stipend. Their teachers and mentors need our support too. Every dollar means so much to this worthy program. Here is their facebook link. Like them to follow their developments.  I have resisted Twitter so far so go find that on your own.